Senin, 24 Desember 2012

Atypical hyperplasia of the breast

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Atypical hyperplasia of the breast

Definition:
Atypical hyperplasia of the breast

Atypical hyperplasia is a precancerous condition that affects cells in the breast. Atypical hyperplasia describes an accumulation of abnormal cells in a breast duct (atypical ductal hyperplasia) or lobule (atypical lobular hyperplasia).

Atypical hyperplasia isn't cancer, but it can be a forerunner to the development of breast cancer. Over the course of your lifetime, if the atypical hyperplasia cells keep dividing and become more abnormal, your condition may be reclassified as noninvasive breast cancer (carcinoma in situ) or breast cancer.

If you've been diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the future. For this reason, doctors sometimes recommend more frequent breast cancer screening and careful consideration of medications and other strategies to reduce breast cancer risk.

Symptoms:

Atypical hyperplasia doesn't cause any specific signs or symptoms.

When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
Atypical hyperplasia doesn't cause signs and symptoms, but it's usually discovered during a breast biopsy to investigate breast signs and symptoms caused by another condition or an abnormality found on a mammogram.


Causes:
It's not clear what causes atypical hyperplasia. Atypical hyperplasia forms when breast cells become abnormal in number, size, shape, growth pattern and appearance. Location of the abnormal cells within the breast tissue — the lobules or the milk ducts — determines whether the cells are atypical lobular hyperplasia or atypical ductal hyperplasia.

Atypical hyperplasia is thought to be part of the complex, multistep process by which breast cancer develops. The process begins when normal cell development and growth become disrupted, causing an overproduction of normal-looking cells (hyperplasia). Atypical hyperplasia occurs when the excess cells stack upon one another and begin to take on an abnormal appearance.

The abnormal cells can continue to change in appearance and multiply, evolving into noninvasive (in situ) cancer, in which cancer cells remain confined to the area where they start growing. Left untreated, the cancer cells may eventually become invasive cancer, invading surrounding tissue, blood vessels or lymph channels.

Complications:

Increased risk of breast cancer
If you've been diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, you have an increased risk of breast cancer in the future. Women with atypical hyperplasia have a risk of breast cancer that is about four times higher than that of women who don't have atypical hyperplasia.

Being diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia at a younger age may increase the risk of breast cancer even more. Women diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia before age 45 have a greater risk of developing invasive breast cancer during their lifetimes, compared with older women, especially those older than 55.

Treatments and drugs:

Atypical hyperplasia is generally treated with surgery to remove the abnormal cells and to make sure no in situ or invasive cancer also is present in the area. Doctors often recommend more frequent screening for breast cancer and strategies to reduce your breast cancer risk.

Follow-up tests to monitor for breast cancer
Your doctor may recommend you undergo follow-up tests to screen for breast cancer. This may increase the chance that breast cancer is detected early, when a cure is more likely. Talk about your breast cancer screening options with your doctor. Your options may include:
  • Self-exams of your breasts to develop breast familiarity and to detect any unusual breast changes
  • Clinical breast exams by your health care provider once or twice a year
  • Screening mammograms every year
  • Screening breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), depending on other risk factors, such as a strong family history or a genetic predisposition to breast cancer
Ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer
To reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, your doctor may recommend that you:
  • Take preventive medications. Treatment with a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), such as tamoxifen or raloxifene (Evista), for five years may reduce the risk of breast cancer. These drugs work by blocking estrogen from binding to estrogen receptors in breast tissue. Estrogen is thought to fuel the growth of some breast cancers. Another option for certain women may be exemestane (Aromasin), which decreases production of estrogen in the body.
  • Avoid menopausal hormone therapy. Researchers have concluded that combination hormone therapy to treat symptoms of menopause — estrogen plus progestin — increases breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. Many breast cancers depend on hormones for growth.
  • Participate in a clinical trial. Clinical trials test new treatments not yet available to the public at large that may prove helpful in reducing breast cancer risk associated with atypical hyperplasia. Ask your doctor if you're a candidate for any clinical trials.
  • Consider risk-reducing (prophylactic) mastectomy. For women at very high risk of breast cancer, risk-reducing mastectomy — surgery to remove one or both breasts — reduces the risk of developing breast cancer in the future. You might be considered at very high risk of breast cancer if you have a genetic mutation in one of the breast cancer genes or you have a very strong family history of breast cancer that suggests a likelihood of having such a genetic mutation.
But this surgery isn't right for everyone. Discuss with your doctor the risks, benefits and limitations of this risk-reducing surgery in light of your personal circumstances. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you might benefit from also meeting with a genetic counselor to evaluate your risk of carrying a genetic mutation and the role of genetic testing in your situation.

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