Phyllodes tumors are somewhat rare, and approximately 10% of phyllodes tumors have the potential for metastasis. Because of this, phyllodes tumors are classified as either low-grade or high-grade. The phyllodes tumor develops from the tissues between the lobules of the breast, known as the intralobular stroma.
The vast majority of phyllodes tumors fall into the low-grade classification. These tumors vary in size but can grow to be quite large, sometimes encompassing the entire breast. The low-grade tumors do have a potential for local recurrence.
The high-grade phyllodes tumors are sometimes referred to as cystosarcoma phyllodes. These tumors can be quite aggressive, with the tendency to recur and the potential to metastasize to other parts of the body. Tumors that do metastasize often spread to the lungs. Unlike other breast cancers, phyllodes tumors spread by invading the blood vessels, instead of the lymph nodes.
Depending on the size of the tumor, treatment for a phyllodes tumor involves removal of the lesion with a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. Other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, are not usually recommended after removal of the tumor.
Duct ectasia is a common condition that tends to affect women in their 40s and 50s. The most common symptom is a green or black, often thick, sticky discharge. The nipple and the surrounding breast tissue may be tender and red. Sometimes scar tissue around the abnormal duct causes a hard lump that may be confused with cancer. This condition sometimes improves without any treatment, or with warm compresses and antibiotics. If the symptoms do not go away, the abnormal duct is removed through an incision at the border of the areola.
Granular Cell Tumors
Granular cell tumors are rare in the breast. Most are found in the skin or the mouth, but they are uncommon even in those places. They are almost always benign.
Most granular cell tumors of the breast are approximately ½ to 1 inch across, and feel like a firm, movable lump. Their firmness can lead to concerns about the possibility of cancer, but a fine needle aspiration or core needle biopsy can be used to confirm that the tumor is benign.
Granular cell tumors are usually removed, along with a small area of normal breast tissue. Having a granular cell tumor does not increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.