Approach and management of primary ectopic breast carcinoma in the axilla: Where are we? A comprehensive historical literature review

Giuseppe Visconti, Yassir Eltahir, Robert J. Van Ginkel, Joost Bart, Paul M.N. Werker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


Primary ectopic breast carcinoma is a rare disease and, at present, no specific guidelines on its diagnosis and treatment are available. The purpose of this article is to review the world literature in English on primary ectopic breast carcinoma located in the armpit and to offer guidelines for diagnosis and treatment. Data for this review were identified by searches of MEDLINE, PubMed, The Cochrane Library, ACNP (Italian catalogue of journals) and references from relevant articles using relevant search terms and data published in the previous reviews. Primary ectopic breast carcinoma of the axilla mostly affects women of over 40 (range 28-90 yrs) years of age. The most frequent histological diagnosis is invasive ductal carcinoma not otherwise specified (NOS) (72%). Because of its rareness, in most cases, the diagnosis is delayed for on average 40.5 months. This disease is rare, but a high level of suspicion for carcinoma is mandatory when confronted with a tumour in this area. Once diagnosed, patients should undergo staging, and prognostic and adjuvant treatment procedures identical to orthotopic breast carcinoma guidelines. There are some limitations for the staging. Loco-regional treatment, on indication, combined with endocrine therapy and/or chemotherapy seems the treatment of choice. © 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e11
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Aberrant breast cancer
  • Axilla
  • Axillary carcinoma
  • Axillary mass
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Breast
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Breast cancer
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Choristoma
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Italy
  • Mastectomy, Segmental
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Primary ectopic breast carcinoma
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Rare Diseases
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surgery
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


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