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Papillary Carcinoma of the Breast

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Updated April 30, 2014

What is Papillary Carcinoma?:

Papillary carcinoma is a type of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). This type of breast cancer is rarely invasive, and usually stays within the milk ducts of your breast. Papilla (a projection) refers to the microscopic shape of the cancer cells, which resemble fingers, or threads.

Papillary Carcinoma is Rare:

This type of breast cancer is diagnosed in only 1% to 2% of all patients, which are usually older women, and in rare cases, in men.

Also Known As:

Intraductal papillary carcinoma, solid papillary carcinoma

Not To Be Confused With Intraductal Papilloma or Papillomatosis:

Intraductal papilloma is a non-cancerous condition in which a tiny wart-like growth in breast tissue punctures a duct. Intraductal papillomas grow inside your breast's milk ducts, and can cause benign nipple discharge. Papillomatosis is a kind of hyperplasia (cells growing larger and faster than normal), another non-cancerous condition which can occur in your ducts. Having one or more intraductal papillomas, or having papillomatosis, slightly increases your risk for developing breast cancer.

Symptoms of Papillary Carcinoma:

Intracystic or intraductal papillary carcinoma may not be felt during your breast self-exam, but could show up on a routine mammogram as a well-defined mass behind or just beyond your areola. Some intracystic papillary carcinomas may create a lump that is large enough to feel with your fingers, and the lump may cause some breast tenderness. Most papillary carcinomas don't cause any symptoms.

Diagnosis and Tests:

Papillary carcinoma can be difficult to distinguish by using imaging techniques alone. A tissue sample is usually required to get an accurate diagnosis. These screenings and tests may be done:

Prognosis for Papillary Carcinoma:

Most cases of papillary carcinoma are low-grade, slow-growing cancers, for which your recovery rate is good. Many papillary carcinomas do not spread very far beyond their original site.

Treatments for Papillary Carcinoma:

Treatment will depend on the size and location of the cancer, and your hormone status.
  • Lumpectomy – removal of a non-invasive cancer with a margin of surrounding tissue
  • Mastectomy – removal of the breast tissue and the invasive cancer
  • Radiation
  • Tamoxifen - for hormone-sensitive cancer

Sources:

American Journal of Roentgenology. 2003; 181:186. Intracystic Papillary Carcinoma of the Breast. Basak Erguvan Dogan, et al.

American Cancer Society. Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions. Papillomatosis. Revised: 09/26/2006.

American Cancer Society. What is Breast Cancer? Papillary Carcinoma. Revised: 09/13/2007.

Related Video
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  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Breast Cancer
  4. Breast Cancer Basics
  5. Types of Breast Cancer
  6. Intraductal Breast Papillary Carcinoma

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