Outcome of Imaging and Biopsy of BI-RADS Category 3 Lesions: Follow-Up Compliance, Biopsy, and Malignancy Rates in a Large Patient Cohort

Dogan S. Polat, Kanwal Merchant, Jody Hayes, Lena Omar, Lindsay Compton, Basak E. Dogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To identify biopsy rates and indications for BI-RADS 3 lesions in a large cohort of patients and compare with follow-up compliance and malignancy outcomes. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all BI-RADS category-3 lesions seen on mammography and/or ultrasound between 2013 and 2015. Patient age, lesion size, follow-up rates at 6-, 12-, and 24-months were collected. Biopsy timing, indication, and outcomes (malignant vs benign) were recorded using at least 2-year follow-up or biopsy pathology as endpoint. Results: Of 2319 BI-RADS 3 lesions in 2075 women analyzed, biopsy was performed in 173 (7.5%). Most biopsies were performed upfront (99, 57.2%), followed by at 6 (44, 25.4%), 12 (21, 12.1%), and 24-month follow-up (9, 5.2%; P <.001). Palpable (P <.001) and larger (median 1.4 vs 1.0 cm, P <.001) lesions in women <40 years (15.2% vs 4.8%, P <.001) were more likely to undergo biopsy. Most biopsies were prompted by patient/physician desire (64.5%, P <.001). Of 783 lesions with available endpoint, 5 (0.6%) were cancer. All cancers were identified either at presentation (in 0–5 months, n = 1) or 6-month follow-up (in 5–9 months, n = 4) with biopsy prompted by either morphology change (n = 3) or lesion growth (n = 2). Of the 1855 lesions which were expected for follow up, only 310 (16.7%) underwent all follow-ups, while 482 (26.1%) had two, 489 (26.5%) one, and 565 (30.6%) had no follow-up. Conclusions: In our cohort, BI-RADS category 3 lesions had significantly higher biopsy rates compared with the small malignancy rate, all of which were identified at baseline or first follow-up. Overall patient follow-up compliance low. Imaging follow-up, especially at first 6-month time point, should be encouraged in BI-RADS 3 lesions, instead of upfront biopsies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • breast biopsy
  • breast cancer
  • malignancy
  • mammography
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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