Breast lymphoma

Breast lymphoma refers to the involvement of the breast with lymphoma and may be primary or secondary.

Both primary and secondary breast lymphomas are rare, accounting for ~ 0.5% (range 0.3-1.1%) of all breast malignancies.

Breast lymphoma may present either as a palpable mass or as diffuse thickening of the breast. Axillary lymph nodes are often enlarged.

Primary lymphoma is less common than secondary lymphoma and is typically a B cell type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). Primary non-Hodgkin lymphoma of the breast represents only ~0.25% (range 0.12-0.53%) of all reported malignant breast tumors.

For a tumor to be labeled as a primary breast lymphoma it is required to fulfill the following criteria 5:

  • the disease should be in the breast or in close proximity to breast tissue
  • no evidence of widespread disease should be there
  • no previous history of lymphoma
  • ipsilateral lymph nodes may be involved if developing simultaneously with primary breast tumor

Secondary lymphoma of the breast is also more frequently NHL than Hodgkin lymphoma.

There is no single imaging finding diagnostic of lymphoma. A biopsy is typically required for diagnosis. Enlarged intramammary lymph nodes may be seen, but these are can be seen also in other breast malignancies. 

It can have variable mammographic appearances but usually, it manifests as a mass or with a diffuse marked increase in parenchymal density (often can be bilateral).

The sonographic appearance is most often that of a solid hypoechoic mass, which is again nonspecific.

Both radiologic and clinical appearances are similar to carcinoma and therefore the differential diagnosis is difficult. Microcalcifications are not a usual feature in lymphoma.

  • T1 C+: inhomogeneous enhancement
    • dynamic imaging shows rapid enhancement and plateau 10

Mammographic findings are nonspecific and the following should be considered 9:

Breast imaging and pathology
Share article

Article information

rID: 1015
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Lymphoma of breast
  • Lymphomatous involvement of the breast
  • Lymphoma of the breast
  • Primary breast lymphoma
  • Secondary breast lymphoma

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: gross pathology of DLBCL
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 1: ultrasound - B cell lymphoma breast
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2: intramammary lymphadenopathy
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 3: DLBCL
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.