Breast Imaging Reporting and Data Systems category 3 (probably benign) breast lesions detected on diagnostic breast ultrasound: The prevalence, outcome and malignancy detection rate in Zaria, Nigeria

  • Sefiya A. Olarinoye-Akorede
  • Garba H. Yunusa
  • Halima Aliyu
  • Ahmed U. Hamidu


Background: Probably benign breast lesions in the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data Systems (BI-RADS 3) constitute a crucial category and a considerable number of all palpable breast masses. Local data concerning the outcome of such lesions in the Nigerian environment is almost non-existent.

Objectives: The goal of this article is to report the frequency, outcome and malignancy detection rate among palpable breast masses that were categorised on ultrasound as BI-RADS category 3 (probably benign) according to the American College of Radiology (ACR).

Methods: Between January 2015 and July 2017, 603 patients had diagnostic whole-breast ultrasound scans. There were 277 women who complained of palpable breast masses, of whom 151 women were diagnosed as having BI-RADS 3 lesions. The final lesion outcome was determined by either biopsy or ultrasound follow-up examination for a total of 2 years. All data were recorded and analysed with Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 (Chicago, USA).

Results: The frequency of BI-RADS category 3 lesions among all the women who underwent breast ultrasound was 25% (151/603); and 54% (151/277) in patients with palpable breast masses. There were 25 patients who were excluded because of incomplete data or who were lost to follow-up. A total of 122 patients had both ultrasound examination and histopathologic diagnosis, while only 4 were followed up for 2 years on ultrasound alone. Of the 122 women biopsied, 117 (95.9%) had benign histologic outcomes, and of the remaining 5, cancer was confirmed in 2 (1.6%), while the remaining 3 patients (2.5%) had lesions considered intermediate
at histology (juvenile papillomatosis, borderline phylloides and atypical ductal hyperplasia). Three out of four patients who had ultrasound follow-up alone had stable lesions after 2 years, while one patient had complete resolution.

Conclusion: This study found a significantly high biopsy rate of 80% (122/151) for probably benign lesions but a low detection rate for malignancy (1.6%). Follow-up with imaging rather than biopsy for lesions sonographically described as probably benign, will reduce medical costs and unwarranted invasive procedures.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-6778
print ISSN: 1027-202X