Background: The role of nipple-sparing mastectomy for breast cancer is controversial, as there is concern regarding its oncologic safety and complication rate. The authors reviewed the literature to quantify the incidence of occult nipple malignancy in breast cancer, identify the factors influencing occult nipple malignancy, quantify locoregional recurrence rates, and quantify nipple-sparing mastectomy complication rates.
Methods: A search of the literature was performed using PubMed. Key words used were “mastectomy,” “nipple involvement,” “nipple-sparing mastectomy,” “skin-sparing mastectomy,” “occult nipple malignancy,” “occult nipple disease,” and “breast cancer recurrence.” Articles were analyzed regarding incidence of occult nipple malignancy, potential factors influencing the incidence of occult malignancy, and recurrence/complications following nipple-sparing mastectomy. The incidence of occult nipple disease was compared between groups using chi-square or Fisher’s exact tests for categorical variables and t tests for continuous variables. Values of p < 0.05 were considered significant.
Results: The overall rate of occult nipple malignancy was 11.5 percent. Primary tumor characteristics influencing occult nipple malignancy were tumor-nipple distance less than 2 cm, grade, lymph node metastasis, lymphovascular invasion, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2–positive, estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor–negative, tumor size greater than 5 cm, retroareolar/central location, and multicentric tumors. The overall nipple recurrence rate considered significant was 0.9 percent, and the skin flap recurrence rate was 4.2 percent. Full- and partial-thickness nipple necrosis rates were 2.9 and 6.3 percent, respectively.
Conclusions: Nipple-sparing mastectomy for primary breast cancer is appropriate in carefully selected patients. All patients should have retroareolar sampling. There is strong evidence to suggest that suitable cases are well circumscribed single or multifocal lesions that have a tumor-to-nipple distance greater than 2 cm. Tumors should be grade 1 to 2 and not have lymphovascular invasion, axillary node metastasis, or human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 positivity.