Mammographic Signs of Systemic Disease


avatar Elham Tavakkol 1 , avatar Mojgan Kalantari 1 , avatar Elham Keshavarz ORCID 1 , *

Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran

how to cite: Tavakkol E, Kalantari M, Keshavarz E. Mammographic Signs of Systemic Disease. Innov J Radiol. 2014;11(30th Iranian Congress of Radiology):e21254.


Although mammography is primarily used for the detection of breast cancer, it can occasionally reveal breast abnormalities related to extra-mammary disease. Cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure and central venous obstruction may manifest as venous engorgement and breast edema at mammography. Pathologic arterial calcifications seen at mammography can indicate an underlying risk factor for accelerated atherosclerosis such as chronic renal failure. Connective tissue diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis-polymyositis, and systemic scleroderma typically manifest with bilateral axillary lymphadenopathy, and stromal calcifications are also seen in the latter three disease processes. Some diseases such as neurofibromatosis type 1 and filariasis may manifest with pathognomonic findings at mammography, whereas other systemic diseases such as Wegener granulomatosis, sarcoidosis, and amyloidosis can manifest as nonspecific breast masses that are indistinguishable from breast cancer and usually require tissue biopsy for confirmation. Knowledge of the imaging characteristics of various systemic diseases affecting the breast will aid the radiologist in differentiating systemic disease from suspect breast lesions, thereby, helping ensure appropriate follow-up. Furthermore, recognition of systemic diseases such as Cowden syndrome that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer will allow the radiologist to recommend appropriate surveillance.



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