Lymph nodes in the human female breast: A review of their detection and significance

Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, United States
Human Pathlogy (Impact Factor: 2.77). 03/2001; 32(2):178-87. DOI: 10.1053/hupa.2001.21571
Source: PubMed


Our experience led us to test the hypothesis that lymph nodes are not uncommon within the substance of the human female breast mound. The following specimen types and sources were used to survey the presence of intramammary lymph nodes in the human female breast mound: (1) cadaver breasts; (2) community hospital breast specimens; and (3) university and VA hospital specimens. We found true lymph nodes within and associated with breast specific tissue (ie, tissue that includes duct and gland structures), thereby validating the hypothesis posed. We discuss the significance of these findings in terms of our dominant patient care paradigm (the Triple Test-physical examination, imaging, and fine-needle aspiration [FNA]) and the choice of patient care management options. We conclude the following: lymph nodes occur in any quadrant of the breast mound; recognizing the possibility of intramammary lymph nodes is important when choosing between patient management options; intramammary lymph nodes can be sampled by FNA; intramammary lymph nodes can contain various disease processes; and in the Oregon Health Sciences University Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic, these intramammary lymph nodes are commonly identified by imaging methods and are more likely to be sampled by FNA than either by core or excisional biopsy.

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