In papillary carcinoma, the cancer cells are arranged in finger-like projections, or papules. Under a microscope, the cells appear fern-like.
Papillary carcinoma is a rare type of breast cancer, accounting for about three percent of all breast cancers. Papillary carcinoma typically has a better prognosis than other, more common breast cancers.
The primary difference between papillary carcinoma and other types of breast cancer is that the cancer cells are arranged in finger-like projections, or papules. Under a microscope, the cells appear fern-like. Sometimes, the cancer cells are very small in size, in which case the cancer may be called micropapillary.
Most papillary carcinomas are invasive, and are treated like invasive ductal carcinoma. However, invasive papillary carcinoma usually has a better prognosis than other invasive breast cancer. Most often, invasive papillary carcinoma occurs after the development of noninvasive papillary carcinoma.
Papillary carcinoma may also be detected when it is still noninvasive. Noninvasive papillary carcinoma is usually considered a variety of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). In its earliest stages, when the cancer cells are just beginning to affect the ducts, this disease may be referred to as infiltrating papillary carcinoma.
Papillary carcinoma treatment options
Treatment for papillary carcinoma often consists of a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or therapy that targets the HER2 protein.