Is subareolar intraoperative biopsy still necessary to predict nipple involvement?

Paolo Belli, Gianluca Franceschini, Daniela Andreina Terribile, Riccardo Manfredi, Enida Bufi, Martina Piacentini, Giovanna Ciriello, M Conti, M Giuliani, I Valente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: To predict the occult tumor involvement of nipple-areola complex (NAC) using preoperative MR imaging and to investigate whether the intraoperative histopathological examination of the subareolar tissue is still necessary.PATIENTS AND METHODS: Out of 712 patients submitted to nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) between 2014 and 2019, we selected 188 patients who underwent preoperative breast MRI. Breast MRI and intraoperative histopathological examination of the subareolar tissue were performed to predict NAC involvement at permanent pathology. All parameters were correlated with final pathological NAC assessment by univariate and multivariate analysis.RESULTS: Forty-three patients (22.9%) had tumor involvement of the NAC. At univariate analysis, non-mass enhancement type (p = 0.009), multifocality/multicentricity (p = 0.002), median tumor size (p < 0.001), median tumor-NAC distance measured by MRI (p < 0.001), tumor-NAC distance ≤ 10 mm (p < 0.001) and tumor-NAC distance ≤ 20 mm (p < 0.001), and lymphovascular invasion (p = 0.001) were significantly correlated with NAC involvement. At multivariate analysis, only tumor-NAC distance ≤ 10 mm retained statistical significance. The sensitivity and specificity of MRI tumor-NAC distance ≤ 10 mm were 79.1% and 97.2% and those of intraoperative pathologic assessment were 74,4% and 100%, respectively.CONCLUSIONS: Tumor-NAC distance is the only reliable MRI characteristic that can predict NAC involvement in breast cancer patients. Although several cut-offs showed promising performances, intraoperative pathologic assessment is still mandatory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-668
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Breast cancer
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nipple-sparing
  • Subareolar, Intraoperative pathology
  • Mastectomy


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