Breast malignant, males, children
Frozen sections

Author: Monika Roychowdhury, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 21 December 2016, last major update August 2012

Copyright: (c) 2001-2016,, Inc.

PubMed Search: breast frozen sections

See also Sentinel lymph nodes
Cite this page: Frozen sections. website. Accessed September 25th, 2017.
Uses by pathologists
  • Historically used for primary diagnosis, not anymore (Pathologica 2011;103:325)
  • Now used to evaluate margins at lumpectomy and reduce need for subsequent surgery (Ann Surg Oncol 2007;14:2953, J Am Coll Surg 2005;201:194, Scand J Surg 2009;98:34)
  • Diagnosis of noncore specimens, although limitations include artifacts, sampling or interpretation errors, and in situ carcinoma only; recommended to use FNA, core biopsy or imaging as preoperative diagnostic tools (Tumori 1999;85:15)
  • Frozen sections for ultrasound guided core needle biopsies may reduce patient stress waiting for paraffin results (BMC Cancer 2009;9:341)

  • Questions to ask prior to frozen section or intraoperative assessment (if any answer is no, do not do frozen section):
    • Is tumor > 1.0 cm?
    • Will there be adequate essential diagnostic material after frozen section?
    • Will additional material be sent after a biopsy is evaluated?
    • Will diagnosis have immediate and relevant impact on operative management of patient?

  • Note: some specimens may not be diagnostic at frozen section, including adenosquamous carcinoma low grade (Histopathology 2006;49:603)
Gross images

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Tumor with positive margins (Fig 1A / 1B)

Microscopic (histologic) images

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Infiltrating ductal carcinoma (Fig 1A / 1B)