“Hyperplasia” is the presence of more cells than would be expected. It is an "overgrowth" of cells. “Atypia” means that the cells look different than normal cells, but not quite like a cancerous cell. Put those terms together and “Atypical Hyperplasia” is an overgrowth of cells that look abnormal.
Atypical hyperplasia can be found during a breast biopsy. It is NOT cancer but increases the risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Women who have had a biopsy that shows atypical hyperplasia have about a four times higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Often, atypical hyperplasia does not have any symptoms, but changes in the breast may be seen on a mammogram.
These women should have screening with mammography and breast exam by a healthcare provider every year. These women should consider doing a self-breast exam regularly to become familiar with their normal breast tissue and report any changes to their healthcare provider.
Women with atypical hyperplasia may be able to take a medication (tamoxifen or raloxifene) to lessen the chance of developing breast cancer. This is called chemoprevention. You should discuss these options with your healthcare providers.
Learn more about prevention with medications (called chemoprevention) on OncoLink.
Learn more about atypical hyperplasia from the Dr. Susan Love Foundation.