Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia

What is Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia

Atypical ductal hyperplasia is a condition in which some of the cells in your breast are unusual or abnormal.

Compared to normal breast cells, the cells seen in atypical ductal hyperplasia have:

  • Faster growth.
  • Abnormal organization.
  • Increased numbers of cells.
  • Unusual sizes and shapes.

Atypical ductal hyperplasia is not a form of cancer. However, if it is not treated, it may turn into cancer.

What are the causes?

It is not known what causes atypical ductal hyperplasia.

What increases the risk?

Risk factors for atypical ductal hyperplasia include:

  • Age. Your risk increases as you get older.
  • Family history of breast cancer.
  • Having prior radiation treatments to your breasts or chest area.
  • Being overweight.
  • Using or having used hormones, such as estrogen.
  • Prior history of:
    • Breast cancer.
    • Noncancerous breast conditions.
    • Dense breasts.
  • Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day.
  • Starting menstruation before the age of 12.
  • Never having given birth.
  • Giving birth to your first child when you were over the age of 35.
  • Not breastfeeding, if you have given birth.
  • Not exercising consistently.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Atypical ductal hyperplasia does not cause any symptoms.

How is this diagnosed?

Atypical ductal hyperplasia is usually discovered during a routine X-ray study of the breasts (mammogram). If something concerning shows up on a mammogram, a biopsy is performed. This means that a small sample of breast tissue is removed and sent to a laboratory. In most cases, breast cells can be removed through a needle. Sometimes, a small cut (incision) will need to be made in the breast to remove a sample of breast tissue. Atypical ductal hyperplasia can then be diagnosed by examining the breast cells under a microscope.

How is this treated?

Atypical ductal hyperplasia treatment may include:

  • More frequent monitoring of breast health. Methods of breast health monitoring include breast exams, mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs.
  • Medicines to keep the abnormal cells from spreading and becoming cancerous.
  • A lumpectomy. This is the removal of the area of abnormal cells, along with a ring of normal tissue. This may also be called breast-conserving surgery.
  • A simple mastectomy. This is the removal of breast tissue, the nipple, and the circle of colored tissue around the nipple (areola). Sometimes, one or more lymph nodes from under the arm are also removed.
  • Preventative mastectomy. This is the removal of both breasts. This is usually only done if you have a very high risk of developing breast cancer.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Take medicines only as directed by your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up appointments as directed by your health care provider. This is important.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink per day for nonpregnant women. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of hard liquor.

Contact a health care provider if:

You have a fever.

Get help right away if:

You have difficulty breathing.


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