The health care provider might feel a small lump under the nipple, but this lump cannot always be felt. There may be discharge from the nipple.
A mammogram should be performed, but may not show a papilloma. Ultrasound may be helpful.
Other tests include:
A breast biopsy to rule out cancer. If you have nipple discharge, a surgical biopsy is performed. If you have a lump, sometimes a needle biopsy can be done to make a diagnosis.
An examination of discharge released from the breast to see if the cells are cancerous (malignant).
An x-ray with contrast dye injected into the affected duct (ductogram). This test has been mostly replaced by ultrasound.
The duct is removed with surgery. The cells are checked for cancer (biopsy).
There may be support groups for women with breast disease in your area. Ask your doctor or other health care provider for a recommendation.
The outcome is excellent for people with one papilloma. People with many papillomas, or who get them at an early age may have an increased risk of developing cancer. Risk may be higher if they have a family history of cancer or there are abnormal cells in the biopsy.
Complications of surgery can include bleeding, infection, and anesthesia risks. If the biopsy shows cancer, you may need further surgery.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you notice any breast discharge or a breast lump.
Hunt KK, Green MC, Buccholz TA. Diseases of the breast. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 36.
Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.