What Are the Treatments for Intraductal Papilloma of the Breast?


While the symptoms indicating the presence of intraductal papilloma in the breast can be alarming, the treatment for them is usually successful. It is important to seek treatment from a health care provider as these growths are occasionally a sign of increased cancer risk.

The Facts

Intraductal papilloma are noncancerous tumors that form within the milk ducts of the breasts. These small wart-like growths consist of gland and fibrous tissue and blood vessels. The treatment for them is surgical removal of the tumors and immediately surrounding tissue. Found mainly in women who are 35 to 55 years intraductal papilloma's cause is unknown. For patients with a single tumor, recovery prospects after treatment are excellent. Those who develop multiple tumors or develop intraductal papilloma at an early age may be at an increased risk for breast cancer.


The first noticeable symptom of intraductal papilloma is nipple discharge. These tumors are the most common cause of discharge from a single duct. Nipple discharge can be clear, brown, green or red. Breast pain also is a symptom. Occasionally a health care provider can feel an intraductal papilloma as a small mass below the nipple, but it is not unusual for the tumors to be too small to be felt. Once the growth is removed, the discharge will cease.


When a single intraductal papilloma forms, it is described as solitary and is usually found in the large milk ducts close to the nipple. When there are several growths, they are referred to as multiple intraductal papillomas. Multiple tumors usually occur in smaller ducts that are farther from the nipple. Multiple intraductal papillomas may be linked to increased cancer risk. Patients with solitary and multiple intraductal papillomas receive the same treatment: removal of the tumors.


Intraductal papilloma can be identified by ductograms, needle biopsies, or examination of nipple discharge. Almost all intraductal papillomas are treated by removal. An incision is made at the very edge of the nipple and the tumor is removed, along with part of the duct in which it was found. The tissue is then examined to be sure it is not cancerous.


For most patients the treatment for intraductal papillomas by surgical removal is straightforward. However, there is always a possibility of complications in surgery involving bleeding or infection. The use of anesthesia carries risk as well. If a solitary intraductal papilloma develops while a patient is young or if the patient develops multiple intraductal papillomas, then there is an elevated risk that the tissue will prove to be abnormal. Always consult a health care professional if you experience breast pain, nipple discharge or if you feel a lump in your breast.

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