Patient-centered research: how do women tolerate nipple fluid aspiration as a potential screening tool for breast cancer?

Susana I. S. Patuleia*, Cathy B. Moelans, Jasmijn Koopman, Julia E. C. van Steenhoven, Thijs van Dalen, Carmen C. van der Pol, Agnes Jager, Margreet G. E. M. Ausems, Paul J. van Diest, Elsken van der Wall, Karijn P. M. Suijkerbuijk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Nipple fluid aspiration (NFA) is a technique to acquire nipple aspirate fluid (NAF), which is considered a rich source of breast-specific biomarkers. Originating directly from the mammary ducts, this liquid biopsy can offer insight into the process of carcinogenesis at its earliest stage and therefore could be of added value to the current imaging-based breast cancer screening tools. With that in mind, it is necessary to know how well NFA is tolerated. Aim: To evaluate the participants’ tolerability of NFA compared to breast imaging screening methods and blood draws. Materials and methods: Three cohorts of women underwent NFA: healthy women (n = 190), women diagnosed with breast cancer (n = 137) and women at high risk of developing breast cancer (n = 48). A 0–10 discomfort score of NFA, mammography, breast MRI and blood draws, was filled in at the study visits, which took place once or annually. Results: The median discomfort rate of NFA was 1, which was significantly lower than the median discomfort of mammography and breast MRI (5 and 3, respectively, p < 0.001), but significantly higher than median discomfort for blood draws (0, p < 0.001). The great majority of women would undergo the procedure again (98%) and recommend it to others (97%). Conclusion: This study shows that NFA was well tolerated by healthy women, women diagnosed with breast cancer and high-risk women. This makes NFA a feasible method to pursue as a potential future breast cancer early detection tool, based on resident biomarkers. Trial registration: NL41845.041.12, NL57343.041.16 and NL11690.041.06 in

Original languageEnglish
Article number705
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
P.J. van Diest received funding from a private donor (Mr. H) and a private foundation (Foundation M).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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