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Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) is a medical condition in which the cells that line the milk ducts of the breasts experience abnormal growth. This condition is not cancerous, but it can indicate an increased cancer risk for a woman. As a result, medical professionals usually recommend careful monitoring and follow-up in patients who have exhibited this condition in one or both breasts.
The term “hyperplasia” is used to describe any increase in the number of cells in a particular region. A number of things can lead to it, and the condition is often so benign that people don't even notice it. In other instances, the hyperplasia causes organ displacement, soreness, and other symptoms which make it noticeable. In the case of atypical ductal hyperplasia, the condition is usually diagnosed during routine mammograms.
On a mammogram, this form of hyperplasia shows up as a small deposit around the milk duct. A medical professional will usually ask to take a biopsy of the area to eliminate the possibility of a malignant tumor. When the biopsy confirms that the patient has atypical ductal hyperplasia, the healthcare provider may discuss a number of options with the patient.
The simplest option is to leave the site alone. Because this condition is not cancerous, it does not require treatment. However, medical professionals will usually recommend that their patients monitor their breasts carefully during monthly breast self exams, and patients may be encouraged to have clinical breast exams and mammograms on a more regular basis. By remaining vigilant, the signs of breast cancer can be caught early, if it emerges.
Some women choose to take prophylactic drugs if they develop atypical ductal hyperplasia, especially if their family members have a history of cancer. These drugs can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. More radically, a woman may opt for a preventative mastectomy. This is not a choice to be undertaken lightly, and it is generally only considered when a woman has a substantial family history of breast cancer along with other risk factors which elevate the probability of developing it.
By performing regular breast self exams and receiving recommend healthcare screening such as mammograms, women can identify hyperplasia and other health conditions early and make proactive choices about their health. Women should talk to their healthcare providers about recommended preventative health screenings.