Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia, What Is It?

Learn about Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia (ADH) and how it can lead to in situ breast cancer with cancer expert Dr. Jay K. Harness.

Jay K. Harness, MD, FACS: Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia… What is it? Lining the ducts of the breast are cells called epithelial cells, and as they begin to grow or overgrow, that’s called hyperplasia — medical term for a lot of growth.

Then we throw into this mix, a medical term called ‘atypical’, meaning that as we look at these cells under the microscope, we notice that they look funny, if you will, and there are better terms obviously that the pathologists use.

So Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia – cells that look funny, they are not normal appearing, overgrowing inside the duct, is probably one step short of in situ breast cancer, and I had previously defined in situ breast cancer. It is again, the cancer cells confined inside the walls of the ducts.

So what do we do about Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia? Typically this is diagnosed now with a large core biopsy and often it’s associated with micro calcifications of the breast. So the standard recommendation in that set of circumstances is to take out more tissue, and that procedure is usually called a ‘wire localization excisional biopsy’, and as a matter of fact, I performed one of those today.

And so we need more tissue to see if perhaps when we have more tissue, we actually upgrade things to the early kind of breast cancer called in situ breast cancer. But let’s assume that in fact it’s just atypical, it’s not made to step on to in situ breast cancer.

Dr. Jay K. Harness is a board certified surgeon currently treating patients at St. Joesph Hospital in Orange, CA. Dr. Harness specializes in complete breast health, breast cancer surgery, oncoplastic reconstruction, genetic screening, management of breast health issues, risk assessment and counseling. Dr. Harness is the medical director for Breast Cancer Answers.com, and guides this first ever social media show’s information by drawing on his former leadership experience as the President of the America Society of Breast Surgeons and Breast Surgery International. Dr. Harness graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1969 and spent time early on in his career at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

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