Ultrasonography.  2018 Apr;37(2):149-156. 10.14366/usg.17036.

Sonographic features that can be used to differentiate between small triple-negative breast cancer and fibroadenoma

  • 1Department of Radiology and Research Institute of Radiology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. jhcha@amc.seoul.kr


Our study investigated whether any sonographic findings could be useful for differentiating between small triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and fibroadenoma.
This retrospective study was approved by our Institutional Review Board, which waived the requirement for patient consent. From January 2009 to December 2010, the sonographic features of 181 pathologically proven TNBC tumors and 172 fibroadenomas measuring less than or equal to 2 cm in the longest dimension were reviewed and analyzed according to the fifth edition of the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) lexicon. Mean tumor roundness was also measured using in-house software.
The median longest lesion dimension was 16 mm (range, 13 to 18 mm) in TNBCs and 13 mm (range, 10 to 16 mm) in fibroadenomas. In comparison to fibroadenomas, small TNBC tumors presented with a higher incidence of irregular shapes (66.9%), noncircumscribed margins (91.7%), hypoechoic echotexture (59.1%), posterior acoustic enhancement (65.2%), and associated features (24.4%). Most TNBCs were classified as BI-RADS category 4 (65.2%) or 5 (28.2%). The mean tumor roundness of small TNBCs was greater than that of fibroadenomas (60%±12% vs. 53%±13%). Multivariate analysis showed that older patient age, irregular shape, nonparallel orientation, posterior acoustic enhancement, associated features, a BI-RADS final assessment category of 4 or 5, and greater tumor roundness were significant independent factors indicative of TNBCs.
TNBC tumors tend to demonstrate more suspicious sonographic features and greater tumor roundness than fibroadenomas. These features may have the potential to help differentiate between small TNBCs and fibroadenomas.


Triple negative breast neoplasms; Fibroadenoma; Ultrasonography
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