Cytomorphologic differentiation of benign and malignant mammary tumors in fine needle aspirate specimens from irradiated female Sprague-Dawley rats

Baktiar O. Karim, Syed Z. Ali, Jennifer A. Landolfi, Jill F. Mann, Guosheng Liu, Archie Christian, John F. Dicello, Dorothy L. Rosenthal, David L. Huso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Fine needle aspiration (FNA) offers a rapid and minimally invasive means to distinguish malignant from benign neoplasms. However, few studies have been published regarding the cytopathology of mammary tumors in rats despite widespread use of the rat model for breast cancer formation and inhibition. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the diagnostic accuracy of FNA cytology and to develop distinguishing cytologic criteria for the diagnosis of radiation-induced benign and malignant mammary tumors in rats. Methods: In a study of radiation-induced mammary carcinogenesis, 100 Sprague-Dawley rats with cutaneous masses were randomly chosen for FNA. The aspirates were smeared, fixed, and stained with a modified Papanicolaou procedure for diagnostic evaluation. Cytologic and histologic diagnoses (benign vs malignant) were compared, and diagnostic accuracy was calculated using the histologic diagnosis as the criterion standard. FNA smears were scored semiquantitatively on a scale of 1-4 for cellularity, atypia, nuclear size, chromatin pattern, nuclear membrane thickness, nucleoli, and mitoses. The background was evaluated for necrosis, hemorrhage, inflammation, and mucosecretory material. Cytomorphologic features were compared statistically between benign and malignant tumors, based on the histologic diagnosis. Results: The sensitivity of FNA was 92.3% and specificity was 89.4% for the detection of malignancy. However, 14% of specimens, all fibroadenomas by histology, had insufficient cells for cytologic evaluation, for an overall accuracy rate of 78.0%. Malignant tumors had significantly higher scores for all cytomorphologic features, and were significantly more likely to contain cell clusters and necrotic debris. Conclusions: FNA is an accurate method for differentiating benign and malignant rat mammary tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-236
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Clinical Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytopathology
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Mammary tumor
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Cytomorphologic differentiation of benign and malignant mammary tumors in fine needle aspirate specimens from irradiated female Sprague-Dawley rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this