An intraductal papilloma is a benign, non-cancerous breast condition. Intraductal papillomas are most common in women over 40 and may develop as their breast tissue changes with age.

A papilloma is a small wart-like lump which may develop in one of the milk ducts. It is usually close to the nipple, but can sometimes be found elsewhere in the breast. It may cause clear or bloodstained discharge from the nipple, or less commonly a lump. Generally speaking they are not painful.

Intraductal papillomas don’t change into breast cancer, but some types of papilloma (atypical) have been shown to predict a slightly increased risk of an individual to developing breast cancer in the future. (This type of papilloma can often be identified by examining a breast biopsy containing a papilloma down a microscope by a pathologist). Some people who have multiple intraductal papillomas may also have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.


Intraductal papillomas can be found by chance following breast screening or after investigations for nipple discharge, a breast lump or breast pain. They are often best seen on a breast ultrasound scan and if suspected you may be offered a local anaesthetic biopsy during this scan.

Occasionally, if the papilloma is very close to the skin of the breast, or if there are any unusual (atypical) features to the papilloma, then a surgical excision biopsy may be recommended. This is normally carried out under a general anaesthetic, but can often be done as a day case procedure.

Providing no other abnormal changes are identified during whichever biopsy you undergo, then patients do not require further treatment. If a papilloma is found to have any atypical features then it is likely she will be offered screening mammograms more frequently than the normal three yearly interval for other women having breast screening in the NHS Breast Screening Programme.

Discussion with Mr McIntosh is important to answer any questions that you may have. For information about any additional conditions not featured within the site, please contact us for more information.


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