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Intraductal papilloma

Definition

Intraductal papilloma is a small, noncancerous (benign) tumor that grows in a milk duct of the breast.

Causes

Intraductal papilloma occurs most often in women ages 35 to 55. The causes and risk factors are unknown.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Breast lump
  • Nipple discharge, which may be clear or bloodstained

These findings may be in just 1 breast or in both breasts.

For the most part, these papillomas do not cause pain.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider might feel a small lump under the nipple, but this lump cannot always be felt. There may be discharge from the nipple.

A mammogram should be performed, but may not show a papilloma. Ultrasound may be helpful.

Other tests include:

  • A breast biopsy to rule out cancer. If you have nipple discharge, a surgical biopsy is performed. If you have a lump, sometimes a needle biopsy can be done to make a diagnosis.
  • An examination of discharge released from the breast to see if the cells are abnormal (atypical) or indicate cancer.
  • An x-ray with contrast dye injected into the affected duct (ductogram). This test has been mostly replaced by ultrasound.

Treatment

The duct is removed with surgery. The cells are checked for cancer (biopsy).

Support Groups

There may be support groups for women with breast disease in your area. Ask your provider for a recommendation.

Outlook (Prognosis)

For the most part, intraductal papillomas do not appear to increase the risk for developing breast cancer.

The outcome is excellent for people with 1 papilloma. The risk for cancer may be higher for:

  • Women with many papillomas
  • Women who get them at an early age
  • Women with a family history of cancer
  • Women who have abnormal cells in the biopsy

Possible Complications

Complications of surgery can include bleeding, infection, and anesthesia risks. If the biopsy shows cancer, you may need further surgery.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you notice any breast discharge or a breast lump.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent intraductal papilloma. Breast self-exams and screening mammograms can help detect the disease early.

References

Davidson NE. Breast cancer and benign breast disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 198.

Hunt KK, Green MC, Buccholz TA. Diseases of the breast. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 36.

Review Date:10/2/2015
Reviewed By:Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

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