Presence of epithelial cells in nipple aspirate fluid is associated with subsequent breast cancer: a 25-year prospective study.

Division of Infectious Diseases, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (Impact Factor: 4.2). 08/2006; 98(1):63-70. DOI: 10.1007/s10549-005-9132-5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fluid and epithelial cells obtained from the breasts of non-pregnant, non-lactating women by nipple aspiration, can be used for early diagnosis of breast neoplasms. However, since nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) with cells is obtainable from less than half of women sampled, the question arises: Is this method capable of targeting the women most likely to develop breast cancer? We approached this question with a 25-year prospective study to determine if subjects yielding NAF with or without epithelial cells were more likely to develop breast cancer during the follow-up period than subjects from whom no NAF or epithelial cells were obtained. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). The follow-up cohort of 972 was representative of the eligible cohort of 1605 for factors related to breast cancer risk and nipple aspiration outcome, and representative of the general population for breast cancer risk. After a mean follow-up period of 25 years, women with epithelial cells in NAF were significantly more likely to develop breast cancer (RR=1.92; CI=1.22-3.01; p<or=0.005), especially invasive breast cancer (RR=2.27; CI=1.27-4.03; p<or=0.005), than women with no NAF, or NAF without epithelial cells. These risks were higher for women<55 years of age at the time of sampling (RR=2.1 for any breast cancer, 2.5 for invasive breast cancer). We conclude that presence of NAF with epithelial cells is associated with subsequent breast cancer risk and may be a useful marker for women at higher risk.

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    • "Because BC develops from ductal and lobular epithelium , the analysis of NAF has attracted much interest as a noninvasive method to assess the metabolic activity within the mammary gland [36]. Biosynthetically active apocrine cells [37] sloughed from ducts and floating in NAFs [9], are associated with exogenous/endogenous bio-compounds and proteinases involved in early malignant transformation [14] [39] [40] [43]. "
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    ABSTRACT: We previously showed that women with abnormal cytology in breast fluid obtained by nipple aspiration had an increased relative risk (RR) of breast cancer compared with women from whom fluid was not obtained and with women whose fluid had normal cytology. This study extends the follow-up in the original study group (n = 4046) and presents the first follow-up for a second group of women (n = 3627). We collected nipple aspirate fluid from women in the San Francisco Bay Area during the period from 1972 through 1991, classified the women according to the most severe epithelial cytology observed in fluid specimens, and determined breast cancer incidence through March 1999. We estimated RRs for breast cancer using Cox regressions, adjusting for age and year of study entry. All statistical tests were two-sided. For women in the first and second study groups, the median years of follow-up were 21 years and 9 years, respectively, and breast cancer incidences were 7.8% (285 cases in the 3633 women for whom breast cancer status could be determined) and 3.5% (115 of 3271), respectively. Compared with women from whom no fluid was obtained, whose incidences of breast cancer were 4.7% (39 of 825) and 3.3% (65 of 1950) for those in group 1 and group 2, respectively, incidences and adjusted RRs were 8.1% (34 of 422), with RR = 1.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.9 to 2.3), and 0% (0 of 31), respectively, for those with unsatisfactory aspirate specimens and 8.2% (148 of 1816), with RR = 1.6 (95% CI = 1.1 to 2.3), and 3.1% (25 of 811), with RR = 1.2 (95% CI = 0.8 to 2.0), respectively, for those with normal cytology in aspirates. Compared with women from whom no fluid was obtained, incidences and adjusted RRs for women in group 1 with epithelial hyperplasia and atypical hyperplasia in aspirates were 10.8% (52 of 483), with RR = 2.4 (95% CI = 1.6 to 3.7), and 13.8% (12 of 87), with RR = 2.8 (95% CI = 1.5 to 5.5), respectively, while those for women in group 2 were 5.5% (25 of 457) and 0% (0 of 22), respectively, with a combined RR = 2.0 (95% CI = 1.3 to 3.3). The results obtained with the newly followed women independently confirmed previous findings that women with abnormal cytology in nipple aspirates of breast fluid have an increased risk of breast cancer.
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