Lobular carcinomas have a distinct natural history with a better response to endocrine therapy and a higher incidence of local recurrence and are more often bilateral. The cytological diagnosis of lobulur carcinoma permits a discriminating therapeutic approach with pre-operative Tamoxifen, more generous resection margins, and assessment of the contralateral breast. The cytological features of lobular cancer however are not well defined and the low cell yield from such neoplasms can result in a high false negative rate.
To determine whether we could improve the pre-operative diagnosis, we reviewed the cytological features of 112 lobular carcinomas. They had small uniform sized nuclei with irregular outlines and inconspicuous nucleoli. The degree of dissociation was similar to duct carcinomas and the incidence of inadequate aspirates was no higher. We found no features that confidently diagnosed lobular cancer or its sub-types. However, using a combination of features, typing of lobular cancer on aspirated material is possible and should be attempted. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.