Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions

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Fibrosis and simple cysts

Intraductal papillomas are benign tumors that grow within the breast ducts. They are wart-like growths of gland tissue along with fibrous tissue and blood vessels (called fibrovascular tissue).

Solitary papillomas or solitary intraductal papillomas are single tumors that often grow in the large milk ducts near the nipple. They are a common cause of clear or bloody nipple discharge, especially when it comes from only one breast. They may be felt as a small lump behind or next to the nipple. They do not raise breast cancer risk unless they contain other changes, such as atypical hyperplasia.

Papillomas may also be found in small ducts in areas of the breast further from the nipple. In this case there are often several growths (multiple papillomas). These tumors are less likely to cause nipple discharge. Unlike single papillomas, multiple papillomas are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Papillomatosis is a type of hyperplasia in which there are very small areas of cell growth within the ducts, but they are not as focused as they are with papillomas. This condition is also linked to a slightly increased risk of breast cancer.

Ductograms are sometimes helpful in finding papillomas. If the papilloma is large enough to be felt, a needle biopsy can be done.

The usual treatment is to remove the papilloma and a part of the duct it is found in. This is usually done through an incision (cut) at the edge of the areola (the darker colored area around the nipple).

Last Medical Review: 09/16/2009
Last Revised: 09/16/2009