Atypical lobular hyperplasia is a precancerous condition that generally affects breast tissue. Treatment for this condition usually involves the removal of any suspicious tissues for further evaluation. Generally considered a benign condition, atypical lobular hyperplasia does possess the potential to become cancer if left untreated. Women may reduce their risk for developing breast cancer by taking proactive measures.
There is no known, definitive cause for the development of the abnormal cells associated with atypical lobular hyperplasia. Initially considered to be a benign condition, it may lead to noninvasive, or in situ, cancer if the abnormal cells continue to mutate and multiply. The term in situ implies that the cancer remains confined to the original area of abnormal cell development. If left untreated, noninvasive atypical lobular hyperplasia may become invasive and spread to surrounding tissues, lymph nodes, and blood vessels.
Atypical lobular hyperplasia does not produce any signs or symptoms. Generally, this form of hyperplasia is only detected during a routine mammogram or during the course of a biopsy. Once a biopsy has been completed, evidence of the atypical hyperplasia may present during the analysis of the obtained samples. If atypical hyperplasia is confirmed, surgery may be necessary to remove a larger portion of tissue for further analysis to determine if in situ or invasive cancer is present.
Treatment for atypical hyperplasia generally involves surgery to remove all the affected tissue. If tests are negative (benign), regular testing may be recommended to further screen for breast cancer. Women with atypical hyperplasia are encouraged to conduct self-examinations each month to check for any abnormalities or changes in their breasts. Annual mammograms may also be suggested as a precautionary measure. Those who have a family history of breast cancer may also undergo periodic imaging tests that may include the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Women who have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer may consider the use of preventive medications for a period of time, such as a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) like tamoxifen. Participation in clinical trials geared specifically toward breast cancer prevention in the presence of atypical hyperplasia may also be an option. Those who face an extremely high risk for developing breast cancer may choose to have a preventive mastectomy performed, which is the surgical removal of both breasts. Due to the correlation between combination hormone therapy and breast cancer, use of synthetic progestin and estrogen during menopause should be avoided by women who have been diagnosed with atypical lobular hyperplasia.
Those who are diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia are four times more likely to develop breast cancer than someone without atypical hyperplasia. Women who are diagnosed with this condition at a young age may also be placed at an even greater risk for cancer development. Following a diagnosis of atypical lobular hyperplasia, women are encouraged to educate themselves about their individual risk factors for breast cancer so they may make informed decisions regarding treatment options and approaches. Women may also be encouraged to stay proactive to reduce their risk for cancer and to implement healthy lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet.