Pediatric breast masses: an argument for observation

Cory M. McLaughlin, Jessica Gonzalez-Hernandez, Monica Bennett, Hannah G. Piper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Pediatric breast masses can be a diagnostic challenge. Nearly all are benign, but there is no consensus on which should be removed. We hypothesized that children with asymptomatic breast lesions can be safely managed nonoperatively. Methods: We performed a single-institution retrospective review of children (≤18 y) who underwent breast mass excision from 2008 to 2016. Male patients with gynecomastia and those who had needle biopsy without formal excision were excluded. Pearson correlation was used to compare ultrasound and pathologic size. Kruskal–Wallis test was used to compare size and final diagnosis. Results: One hundred ninety-six patients were included (96% female). Mean age was 15 ± 3 y. Most patients (71%) presented with a painless mass. Preoperative ultrasound was obtained in 70%. Pathology included fibroadenoma (81.5%), tubular adenoma (5%), benign phyllodes tumor (3%), benign fibroepithelial neoplasm (0.5%), and other benign lesions (10%). There were no malignant lesions. Ultrasound size had a Pearson correlation of 0.84 with pathologic size (P < 0.0001). There was no association between the size and final diagnosis. Conclusions: Over 9 y, all pediatric breast masses removed at a single center were benign, most commonly fibroadenoma. Ultrasound was an accurate predictor of size, but large lesions did not necessarily confer a high malignancy risk. Observation is appropriate for asymptomatic breast masses in children. Decision for surgery should be individualized and not based on size alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-252
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Breast mass
  • Children
  • Excision
  • Fibroadenoma
  • Observation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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