The neoplastic involvement of the nipple-areolar complex was histologically studied in 1,291 available consecutive mastectomy specimens with primary invasive breast carcinoma. Tumor involvement of the nipple-areolar complex was found in 150 specimens (12 percent) and was not suspected on gross examination in 99 patients (8 percent). A significant finding of our study was the relatively high rate of tumor foci in the nipple-areolar complex (7 percent) in those patients with early invasive stage I or II breast carcinoma eligible for conservative therapy. Analysis of nipple-areolar complex involvement with consideration of different clinicomorphologic variables indicates that it was directly associated with tumor size. No significant correlation was found with axillary metastases, tumor histologic type, or with the presence of noninvasive cancer in the vicinity of the dominant tumor. Our estimate of the significant chance of finding tumor in the nipple-areolar complex, especially in the patient group eligible for conservative therapy, underlines the need for postoperative radiation.
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