Papillary apocrine change is a rare condition that involves the cells lining the inside of the breast duct (epithelium). There is an overgrowth of cells that have “apocrine” features, meaning that the gel-like substance that fills the cell (called cytoplasm) is grainy. Often there are snout-like growths that project into the cell.
Papillary apocrine changes don’t appear to increase breast cancer risk. In rare cases, these changes can occur along with breast cancer. They also can occur with other benign conditions that may increase future breast cancer risk, such as radial scars and atypical hyperplasia. However, papillary apocrine changes found on their own don’t bring any added risk.
If you’re diagnosed with papillary apocrine change, be sure that the pathologist (the doctor who examines the cell sample to make the diagnosis) was able to rule out any possibility of cancer. Because apocrine changes can be difficult to classify, you may wish to seek a second opinion from another pathologist.