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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 166-170

Accuracy of clinical and ultrasound examination of palpable breast lesions in a resource-poor society


1 Department of Radiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria
2 Department of General Surgery, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria
3 Department of Histopathology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication14-Nov-2017

Correspondence Address:
Uzoamaka R Ebubedike
Department of Radiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi
Nigeria
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DOI: 10.4103/tjmr.tjmr_60_16

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  Abstract 

Background: Palpable breast masses are common presentations in resource-poor societies. Clinical and ultrasonographic breast examinations are commonly available means of evaluation. Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the accuracy of clinical breast examination (CBE) and ultrasonography in the diagnosis of palpable breast masses. Methodology: Consenting females presenting with palpable breast masses at the general surgical outpatient clinic were assessed clinically by the most senior surgeon, ultrasonographically by two radiologists, and the diagnosis compared with histologic examination. Results: One hundred and thirteen patients were recruited during the study period from January 2013 to April 2014. Of these, 53 patients (46.9%) had breast core biopsy, while 60 (53.1%) had open surgical biopsy. Only 67 (59.3%) patients had their histological results available. The mean age was 41.58 years (range 16–78). CBE achieved a sensitivity of 82.1%, specificity 67.9%, positive predictive value (PPV) 78%, negative predictive value 73%, overall accuracy 76.1%, false positive rate 32.1%, and false negative rate 17.9%. Breast ultrasonography had a sensitivity of 86.8%, specificity 72.4%, PPV 80.5%, negative predictive value 80.8%, overall accuracy 80.6%, false positive rate 27.6%, and false negative rate 13.2%. Conclusion: This study revealed no statistical significant difference between the accuracy of CBE and breast ultrasonography. We recommend that both should be used in the evaluation of palpable breast masses.

Keywords: Clinical breast examination, palpable breast masses, ultrasound


How to cite this article:
Ebubedike UR, Umeh EO, Anyanwu SN, Ihekwoaba EC, Egwuonwu OA, Ukah CO, Onwukamuche ME, Emegoakor CD, Onyiaorah IV, Anyiam DD, Chianakwana GU. Accuracy of clinical and ultrasound examination of palpable breast lesions in a resource-poor society. Trop J Med Res 2017;20:166-70

How to cite this URL:
Ebubedike UR, Umeh EO, Anyanwu SN, Ihekwoaba EC, Egwuonwu OA, Ukah CO, Onwukamuche ME, Emegoakor CD, Onyiaorah IV, Anyiam DD, Chianakwana GU. Accuracy of clinical and ultrasound examination of palpable breast lesions in a resource-poor society. Trop J Med Res [serial online] 2017 [cited 2018 Dec 14];20:166-70. Available from: http://www.tjmrjournal.org/text.asp?2017/20/2/166/218222


  Introduction Top


Breast disease is increasingly common in 3rd world practice comprising about 30% of general surgical attendances among females.[1] In the absence of dedicated screening programs, a majority of patients with palpable lumps and also in regions with infrastructure challenges, the clinician is faced with challenges of expeditiously making a diagnosis of benignity or otherwise and offering treatment for patients. Whereas most breast disease in advanced communities are screen detected, the situation is not the same in impoverished regions. Palpable breast masses are common and usually benign, but efficient evaluation and prompt diagnosis are necessary to rule out malignancies.[2] A thorough clinical breast examination (CBE), imaging, and tissue sampling are needed for a definite diagnosis. CBE is effective in detecting masses and can help determine whether a mass is benign or malignant.[3],[4] CBE can detect up to 44% of cancers, up to 29% of which would not be detected by an imaging modality such as mammography.[3],[4]

In a study by Wishart et al.,[5] comparing the performance and accuracy of CBE on 16,585 symptomatic women among clinicians, there was marked variation in sensitivity between clinicians (range 44.6%–65.9%). Some studies done in Nigeria as well as the Breast Health Global Initiative Early Detection Panel 2007 Guidelines have recommended CBE as a tool for assessing breast diseases.[6],[7],[8],[9],[10] Despite its accuracy, CBE alone is not adequate for definitive diagnosis of breast cancer.[2] Further evaluation, including follow-up examinations, imaging and tissue sampling are required in all patients with breast masses.

Breast ultrasound is an important imaging modality in the evaluation of palpable breast masses because it is readily available, affordable, and usually the first option among imaging modalities requested by the clinician in assessment of palpable breast masses. Ultrasound can effectively distinguish solid masses from cyst, which account for approximately 25% of breast lesions.[11],[12] It is also useful in discriminating between benign and malignant solid masses.[11],[13] Some authors have reported high sensitivities and accuracy for breast ultrasound examination thus making breast ultrasound an important tool for palpable breast mass evaluation.[14],[15],[16] Several studies have advocated the use of “triple test” which consists of CBE, radiologic examination, and cytopathology.[17],[18],[19],[20] Ultrasound as well as CBE are observer dependent and interobserver variations exist.

Previous studies have been done in our environment and some other tertiary health institutions in Nigeria, on accuracy of CBE for palpable breast masses.[21],[22],[23],[24],[25] Study has neither evaluated the accuracy of breast ultrasound nor compared the accuracy of CBE and breast ultrasound in the diagnosis of palpable breast masses in our environment. The aim of this study is to compare the accuracy of CBE and breast ultrasound in the diagnosis of palpable breast masses using histological diagnosis as gold standard.


  Methodology Top


Consenting females presenting with palpable breast masses at the general surgical outpatient clinic were assessed clinically by the most senior surgeon, ultrasonographically by two radiologists, and the diagnosis compared with histologic examination from January 2013 to April 2014. Patients with nonpalpable breast masses were excluded from this study. Approval was sought and obtained from the Ethical Committee. Informed written consent was obtained from all the patients. The most senior surgeon made a diagnosis of benignity or malignancy based on clinical assessment. This information was blinded to the radiologists; subsequently, patients underwent ultrasound examination at the radiology department. The ultrasound examinations were done by the radiologists using an Aloka ProSound SSD-2500SX ultrasound machine with a linear transducer (frequency of 7.5 Mhz) and color Doppler capability. The patients had core needle biopsy or open surgical biopsy as determined by the attending surgeon. After the biopsy, the patients were directed to the histology laboratory which operates a fee-for-service structure for histology and histology reports by the pathologists obtained. Thereafter, the following parameters were calculated, namely, accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), negative predictive value, and false positive and negative rates.

Data management

Statistical analysis of data was done using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Software, IBM Corp, Released 2012, IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 21.0 Armonk, NY.


  Results Top


One hundred and thirteen patients were recruited during the study period from January 2013 to April 2014. Of these, 53 patients (46.9%) had breast core biopsy, while 60 (53.1%) had open surgical biopsy. Only 67 (59.3%) patients had their histological results available. The mean age was 41.58 years (range 16–78). CBE achieved a sensitivity of 82.1%, specificity 67.9%, PPV 78%, negative predictive value 73%, overall accuracy 76.1%, false positive rate 32.1%, and false negative rate 17.9%. Breast ultrasonography had a sensitivity of 86.8%, specificity 72.4%, PPV 80.5%, negative predictive value 80.8%, overall accuracy 80.6%, false positive rate 27.6%, and false negative rate 13.2%. There was discordance between CBE and histology in 25.45%[17] and with ultrasound and histology in 20.9%.[14] [Table 1] and [Table 2] show comparison of clinical and ultrasound diagnosis with histological diagnosis of palpable breast masses. As shown in [Table 3], there is no significant difference in the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, overall accuracy, and false positive and negative rates of clinical and ultrasound breast examinations.
Table 1: Clinical breast examination diagnosis compared to histology

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Table 2: Ultrasound diagnosis compared to histology

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Table 3: Diagnostic validities of clinical breast examination and breast ultrasonography

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  Discussion Top


Significant percentage of patients 46 (40.7%) did not return with histology reports. This poor adherence to the physician's recommendations has been noted by other workers in the environment.[26],[27] They reasons they adduced included limited knowledge of cancer and its causes, lack of health insurance, influence of spiritual beliefs, need for secrecy, high dependence on complementary and alternative medicine therapies. Furthermore, high default rate among patients sent for investigation in our environment is due to poor income where a significant population earns less than a dollar daily and 70% of the population live below the poverty line. This coupled with increasing failure of the extended family network can make fee-for-service payment for chronic ailments such as cancer quite challenging.[6]

Many oncology workers in the region have advocated subsided pathology services to encourage accurate diagnosis and treatment. Both clinical and ultrasound breast examinations show fairly high accuracy because of the palpable nature of the lesions and clinical diagnosis in the experienced hands was not too difficult, especially in the young and very old patients. Furthermore, on ultrasound, the larger the size of the palpable breast lesions the easier the ultrasound assessment.

In this study, the sensitivity of clinical diagnosis is higher than the upper limit of overall range of sensitivity, 17.2%–58.3% reported by Smith et al.[28] though their studies involved early stages of the disease.[14],[28] Furthermore, higher than that of Humphrey et al.[29] which was on early stage and involved age group 17–80yrs. The age range for study by Humphrey et al. is comparable to the age range in our study. Many of our patients presented in late stage of the disease.

Fenton et al.[30] reported a much lower sensitivity 21.6% which may have resulted from their study population being in asymptomatic females with age range of 40–65 years. The higher value seen in our study was likely because our patients were symptomatic since similar studies done for palpable breast masses in same environment and similar age group correlated.[21],[22],[23],[24]

Sensitivity of breast ultrasound diagnosis was higher than that reported by Mansoor et al.[31] 57.14% and Kolb et al.[15] 78.6% whose patients had late stage of the disease but in younger age group (≤50 years). Higher sensitivities were reported by Pande et al.[32] in his study involving age group similar to that in our study but early stage of the disease. Stavros et al.[16] involved patients in early stage of the disease and reported a higher sensitivity 98.4%.

CBE achieved a specificity of 67.9% while higher specificities were reported in the literature by previous authors.[14],[21],[22],[23],[24],[29] Ultrasound achieved a specificity of 72.4% which is lower than specificity reported by Pande et al.[32] 94.10% and Ngotho et al.[33] 98.1%. Study by both authors was in early stage of the disease. However, Ngotho's study was for patients under 35 years of age. CBE had a PPV of 78% which is lower than that reported by Madubogwu et al.[21] 88.7% while higher than 60% reported by Ngotho et al.[33]

PPV achieved by ultrasound is lower than PPV reported by Pande et al.[32] 95.5% and comparable to PPV of 83.3% reported by Ngotho et al.[33] It is much higher than PPV reported by Vetto et al.[34] 33% whose study was on patients under 40 years with early stage of the disease.

The false positive rate from CBE is high like those reported by some previous authors, all done in the same environment.[22],[23] High positive rate shows that clinical diagnosis or USS alone has high probability of making false diagnosis of cancer. High false negative rate shows that many malignancies could be missed until they become advanced with resultant poor prognosis and high cost of management.

In all, the sensitivities and specificities were fairly high and also found to have no statistical significant difference likely reason being that the study was carried out by experienced surgeons and radiologists.


  Conclusion Top


No statistical significant difference was found in this study between the accuracy of ultrasound and CBE. We recommend that both breast examinations should be taken into consideration in the evaluation of palpable breast masses. Young patients <25 years with clear clinical and radiological features of benignity should have low priority on theater space demand and could be managed on observation so that only higher risk patients would have priority on theater space.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
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