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Cystic neutrophilic granulomatous mastitis: an update
  1. Jessie M Wu,
  2. Gulisa Turashvili
  1. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gulisa Turashvili, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Gulisa.Turashvili{at}


Cystic neutrophilic granulomatous mastitis (CNGM) is a rare subtype of granulomatous mastitis with a highly distinct histological pattern often associated with Corynebacterium species. CNGM is characterised by suppurative lipogranulomas that are composed of central lipid vacuoles rimmed by neutrophils and an outer cuff of epithelioid histiocytes. Some of the lipid vacuoles may contain sparse, rod-shaped, gram-positive bacilli that can be easily missed or dismissed. The surrounding mixed inflammatory infiltrate contains Langhans-type giant cells, lymphocytes and neutrophils. CNGM occurs in reproductive age women with a history of pregnancy and typically presents as a palpable mass that can be painful. CNGM has many mimickers, most significantly breast carcinoma. In many cases, CNGM has significant pathological and clinical overlap with other forms of granulomatous mastitis. Given the association with Corynebacterium species, early diagnosis of CNGM is essential in offering patients the most appropriate treatment. Prolonged antibiotic therapy specifically directed to corynebacteria is required, sometimes even beyond resolution of clinical symptoms. This comprehensive review of the existing literature on CNGM describes clinical–pathological features, microbiological findings, challenges associated with the microscopic differential diagnosis, clinical implications of this diagnosis and emerging treatment options. Morphological criteria and suggested comments to convey the degree of diagnostic certainty are also proposed for standard pathology reporting.

  • breast
  • corynebacteria
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  • Handling editor Tahir S Pillay.

  • Contributors JMW wrote the manuscript. GT designed and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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