An audit of patients clinically deemed as high risk for malignant breast pathology at the Helen Joseph Hospital Breast Clinic
Background: The Helen Joseph Hospital Breast Clinic has implemented a clinical triage system for patients presenting with a variety of breast concerns. The goal of this system is to expedite the process from initial presentation to radiological assessment of patients with suspected breast malignancy or breast abscess in a resource limited setting. The objective was to assess the clinical, imaging and histological diagnoses of breast disease in these patients with malignancy and sepsis.
Methods: A retrospective audit of patients clinically deemed high risk for malignant breast pathology referred to the breast imaging unit (BIU) in 2018. Patients were triaged based on strict clinical criteria: presence of a breast mass with or without lymph nodes or a breast abscess. Patients that were subsequently referred for mammography/ultrasound were identified using the patient files in the BIU. Results were recorded on Microsoft Excel and analysed using SAS version 9.2.
Results: Three hundred and twenty-five patients were included in this study. Eighty-seven (26.8%) were diagnosed with breast cancer and 236 (72.6%) with benign disease. The most common presenting complaint was a palpable mass (n = 227; 69.9%). Ninety-five per cent of patients characterised as BI-RADS 5 had malignant disease. 55.8% of malignancies diagnosed on ultrasound had locally advanced disease. The most common histological diagnosis of malignancy was invasive ductal carcinoma (n = 67, 77%). The most commonly diagnosed benign disease was breast abscess (n = 42, 17.8%).
Conclusion: BI-RADS findings correspond to similar studies, however, a large number of benign breast disease was diagnosed. This may indicate heightened clinical awareness of breast cancer diagnosis and early detection. A significant percentage of malignancies presented as locally advanced. Except for a lower number of invasive lobular carcinoma, the histological spectrum of malignant disease is similar to comparative studies.
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