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Breast Cancer

Polyps in the breast duct

08/21/2001

Question:

I had a biopsy done today on my right breast. I had a mammogram which showed a spot that was not there 7 months ago. I then started experiencing a bloody drainage from that nipple. The surgeon found what he called a polyp in the duct. He sent it for a path report. I have had fibrocystic breast desease and my breast feel like cottage cheese when you do a self exam. Can these polyps become malignant if they are not caught and removed? I`m 43 years old. My mother died of ovarian cancer and I have two aunts on my mother side with breast cancer and my mothers father died of colon cancer. Two months prior to this I had a large tubulovillous Adenoma removed from the transvers colon which my doctor said was premalignant. They tell me I am very lucky. Can these two polyps be related and am I a high risk for getting cancer?

Answer:

Thank you for your question. The polyps in the ducts you describe may be a form of ductal carcinoma in situ(DCIS) called micropapillary. The duct is filled with fingerlike projections into the center of the duct. These papillomas can become cancer. It is difficult for the doctor and the pathologist to determine if these lesions will stay in the precancerous stage or change to invasive cancer. You are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer with the polyp condition and even more so because of your family history. Discuss with your physician the alternatives available to you as preventive measures. I urge you to pursue this issue. You may want to seek a second opinion.

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Response by:

Janet   Trigg, RN, MSN, EdD Janet Trigg, RN, MSN, EdD
Formerly:
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati