A total of 2431 fine needle aspirates of symptomatic breast lumps was performed on 2096 patients over the last three years at the weekly head, neck and breast clinic at the Belfast City Hospital Trust. Diagnostic accuracy was achieved within the recommended standards although the "insufficient" rate was high at 31.8%. False negative and positive rates were low and the positive predictive value for malignancy was 99%. Excision biopsy for benign breast disease had decreased by almost a third during this period. Fine needle aspiration cytology is a highly accurate and cost-effective technique for the investigation of symptomatic breast lumps and results in significant savings
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