Anatomical pathology| Volume 55, ISSUE 3, P335-341, April 2023

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Idiopathic granulomatous mastitis and cystic neutrophilic granulomatous mastitis: two sides of the same coin or distinct entities?

Published:December 08, 2022DOI:


      Idiopathic granulomatous mastitis (IGM) is a benign mimic of breast carcinomas. It is defined histologically by the presence of granulomas and inflammation. The closely related cystic neutrophilic granulomatous mastitis (CNGM) shows lipogranulomas, with a reported association with corynebacteria. A large cohort of IGM was reviewed to compare clinical, microbiological and histological features between non-CNGM IGM and CNGM.
      Cases of IGM were reviewed for histological parameters including the presence of lipogranulomas and composition of inflammatory cells. Clinical data were obtained through hospital records.
      The cohort included 79 cases, including 51 non-CNGM IGM and 28 CNGM. Comparing non-CNGM IGM and CNGM, there were no differences in clinical or demographical data, other than a younger age of presentation (36.2 vs 41.5 years, p=0.012) for CNGM. Most IGM resolved within the follow-up period (n=57/64, 89.1%), with similar outcomes regardless of treatment (p>0.05). In CNGM, there were more infiltrates of neutrophils (p=0.001), histiocytes (p=0.047), and multinucleated giant cells (p=0.006), but less lymphocytes (p=0.008). Corynebacteria was cultured in two (25%) cases of CNGM, and one non-CNGM IGM (14.3%). Gram-positive bacilli were identified in two cases of CNGM. ‘Early’ lipogranulomas were observed closely associated to inflamed ducts in three cases of CNGM.
      Apart from age, there was no distinct clinical or microbiological feature for CNGM. These findings do not support CNGM as a distinct entity. Rather, CNGM-pattern may represent a continuum of IGM, possibly age-related and attributable to ductal inflammation and cystic changes in the breast parenchyma.

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