An intraductal papilloma is a benign, non-cancerous breast condition. It is 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 it is not painful.

Intraductal papillomas don’t change into breast cancer, but some types of papilloma (atypical or multiple papillomas) may be linked with an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the future.


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.

If the initial biopsy confirms a papilloma, you may be offered a vacuum assisted biopsy ( VAB) at a later date in order to remove the whole lesion. This allows the laboratory staff to examine the whole papilloma in detail down the microscope (to be sure there are no atypical features) and should also stop or reduce symptoms like nipple discharge.

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

If a papilloma is found to have any atypical features, it is likely that screening mammograms will be offered more frequently than three yearly NHS Breast Screening Programme.

Discussion with Rachel 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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