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Intraductal Papilloma
An intraductal papilloma is a noncancerous breast tumor that forms in a milk duct. Learn about intraductal papilloma symptoms, treatment, and p...

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What Is Intraductal Papilloma?

Breast tumors aren’t always indicative of cancer. There are also benign breast conditions that can cause lumps. One of these conditions is intraductal papilloma.

An intraductal papilloma is a small, benign tumor that forms in a milk duct in the breast. These tumors are made of gland and fibrous tissue as well as blood vessels. They are most common in women between ages 35 and 55. There are no known risk factors for intraductal papilloma.

When a single tumor grows in large milk ducts, it’s called a solitary intraductal papilloma. It’s typically felt as a small lump near the nipple, and it may cause nipple discharge or bleeding. This type of lump isn’t associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.

Ducts farther away from the nipple are smaller, and papillomas in this area typically manifest as clusters of little tumors. These tumors are called multiple papillomas, and they have been associated with a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. This is because multiple papillomas have been linked to a precancerous breast condition called atypical hyperplasia.

A condition called papillomatosis is sometimes grouped in with intraductal papillomas. It develops when there’s an abnormal overgrowth of cells in the milk ducts. Papillomatosis is also associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Intraductal Papilloma?

An intraductal papilloma can cause breast enlargement, lumps, and nipple discharge. Some people might also experience pain or discomfort in their breast.

An intraductal papilloma typically presents as one larger lump near the nipple or as multiple smaller lumps farther from the nipple. These lumps are normally 1 to 2 centimeters wide, but they can also be larger. The size of the lump depends on the size of the duct where it grows. Sometimes, you won’t even be able to feel the lump.

The symptoms of intraductal papilloma are very similar to those of other types of breast tumors. It’s important to see your doctor if you see or feel a lump in your breast. Your doctor can address any concerns you may have and examine the lump to help make a diagnosis.

How Is Intraductal Papilloma Diagnosed?

Your doctor may recommend a breast ultrasound if they suspect you have an intraductal papilloma. This type of imaging test is more effective in showing papillomas than a standard mammogram. However, a mammogram will also be performed to check for any other types of abnormalities.

Additional tests may be performed as well:

  • A breast biopsy can be performed to rule out cancer. In a breast biopsy, your doctor will insert a thin needle into your breast tissue and remove some cells. This type of biopsy is called a fine needle aspiration. Your doctor may want to perform a surgical biopsy if you’ve been experiencing nipple discharge. This will allow them to examine your breast tissue more thoroughly.
  • If you have nipple discharge, your doctor may want to do a microscopic examination of breast discharge to look for cancer cells.
  • A ductogram can also help your doctor make a diagnosis. A ductogram is a type of X-ray that helps determine the underlying cause of nipple discharge. During a ductogram, contrast dye is injected into the breast ducts so your doctor can view them in the X-rays more easily. Though this test may be used in some cases, it has largely been replaced by ultrasound.

How Is Intraductal Papilloma Treated?

Standard treatment for this condition involves surgery to remove the papilloma and the affected part of the milk duct. The surgery is typically done under general anesthesia, which means that you’ll be asleep during the procedure. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may or may not need to stay in the hospital overnight. You’ll have a small wound from the incision, usually near your nipple. While it may initially leave a scar, the scar will fade over time.

The tissues removed during the surgery will be tested for the presence of cancerous cells. Further treatment may be necessary if cancerous cells are found.

What Is the Long-Term Outlook for People with Intraductal Papilloma?

The outlook for people with intraductal papilloma is usually good once the papilloma is surgically removed. If you have multiple papillomas and you’re under age 35, you should speak with your doctor about the increased risk for breast cancer.

Ask your doctor for information about support groups or counselors who can help you through the treatment process.

How Can I Prevent Intraductal Papilloma?

There’s no specific way to prevent intraductal papilloma. However, you can increase the likelihood of early detection by seeing your doctor regularly for breast exams, doing monthly breast self-exams, and having regular screening mammograms. You should also call your doctor if you have concerns about anything related to your breast health.

Written by: Jaime Herndon and Lauren Reed-Guy
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by:
Published: Jul 12, 2012
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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