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Hyperplasia is an overgrowth of the cells that line the lobules (milk-producing glands) or ducts (small tubes) inside the breast. It is not cancer, but some types of hyperplasia are linked with a higher risk of developing breast cancer (see below).
Hyperplasia can be described as either usual or atypical, based on how the cells look under a microscope.
Hyperplasia doesn’t usually cause a lump that can be felt, but it can sometimes cause changes that can be seen on a mammogram. It’s diagnosed by doing a biopsy, during which a hollow needle or surgery is used to take out some of the abnormal breast tissue for testing.
Hyperplasia can affect your risk for breast cancer, but how much depends on what type it is:
Usual ductal hyperplasia is considered a normal finding in the breast and does not need to be treated.
If either ADH or ALH is found in a needle biopsy sample, surgery may be recommended to remove more breast tissue around it. This is to be sure that there is nothing more serious, such as cancer, nearby. If ADH or ALH is found after a surgical biopsy, typically no other treatment is needed.
Both ADH and ALH are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. Even though most women with ADH or ALH will not develop breast cancer, it's still important to talk with a health care provider about your risk and what you can do about it.
Options for women at higher risk of breast cancer from ADH or ALH may include:
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
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Sabel MS. Overview of benign breast diseases. UpToDate. 2021. Accessed at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-benign-breast-diseases on October 27, 2021.
Sabel MS, Collins LC. Atypia and lobular carcinoma in situ: High-risk lesions of the breast. UpToDate. 2021. Accessed at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/atypia-and-lobular-carcinoma-in-situ-high-risk-lesions-of-the-breast on October 27, 2021.
Last Revised: January 25, 2022
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