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Benign Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast

Phyllodes tumors are rare and make up fewer than 1% of all breast tumors. Phyllodes tumors start in the stroma, the connective tissue of the breast.
 

Phyllodes tumors are rare and make up fewer than 1% of all breast tumors. Phyllodes tumors start in the stroma, the connective tissue of the breast.

The name comes from the Greek word for leaf because the cells grow in a pattern that looks like a leaf.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 75% of phyllodes tumors are non-cancerous and 25% are cancerous.

Phyllodes tumors tend to grow quickly, so they’re usually felt as a lump first. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a benign phyllodes tumor and a fibroadenoma, which is the most common type of benign breast tumor.

In some cases, your doctor will be able to make a diagnosis after a biopsy, but in other cases, the entire tumor will need to be removed before your doctor can tell what kind of tumor it is and whether it’s cancerous or not.

Whether the phyllodes tumor is non-cancerous or cancerous, the first treatment is always surgery:

  • lumpectomy is the most common surgery done to remove a phyllodes tumor; the tumor, plus a margin of healthy, cancer-free tissue around it is removed

  • mastectomy may be done if a margin of cancer-free tissue can’t be removed with the tumor during lumpectomy

Phyllodes tumors usually don’t spread to the lymph nodes, so lymph node surgery isn’t needed.

Being diagnosed with a benign phyllodes tumor doesn’t increase your risk of breast cancer.

Benign phyllodes tumors can come back, either in the breast, if you had lumpectomy, or in the skin and underlying tissues of the breast, if you had mastectomy. In very, very rare cases, phyllodes tumors may come back in a part of the body away from the breast.

So you and your doctor will develop a survivorship care plan that will likely include more frequent screening, including:

Learn about Cancerous Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast.

Reviewed by 1 medical adviser
 
Jenni Sheng, MD
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Learn more about our advisory board

— Last updated on January 20, 2022, 6:51 PM