Radiological findings of breast involvement in benign and malignant systemic diseases

Abstract Although the primary purpose of periodic mammograms in screening programs is to identify lesions suspected of being carcinomas, the findings are often related to systemic (benign or malignant) diseases, rather than breast cancer. Although the involvement of breast structures in systemic diseases is unusual, it can be included in the differential diagnosis of masses, skin changes, calcifications, asymmetry, and axillary lymphadenopathy. The main diagnostic entities that can be associated with such involvement are diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart diseases, connective tissue diseases, HIV infection, lymphoma, leukemia, and metastases from primary tumors at other sites. In many cases, information related to knowledge and treatment of chronic diseases is not available to the radiologist at the time of evaluation of the mammography findings. The purpose of this essay is to offer relevant pictorial information to the general radiologist about systemic diseases involving the breast, expanding the range of differential diagnoses in order to avoid unnecessary invasive procedures.