Benign Breast Diseases

These are non-cancerous diseases of the breast and sometimes may cause discomfort or pain. Nearly     80 % of breast lumps are benign. A biopsy is done for any breast lump to rule out cancer.

Features of a benign lump in the breast

  • A benign lump is usually smooth / firm, well defined
  • Features of a cancerous lump
    • Usually hard, with irregular borders and fixed to the underlying tissue and skin.
    • May be associated with skin changes like – dimpling, redness, orange peel appearance
    • Nipple discharge/ retraction
    • Another lump in the armpit.
    • Rarely, it may be associated with swelling of the arm, diffuse swelling of the breast, change in size / symmetry of the breasts or a lump in the neck. 

Food containing carotenes like melons, carrots, sweet potatoes, nuts, beans and squash may lower risk of benign breast conditions

Common benign breast conditions, include but are not limited to:

Hyperplasia: is an overgrowth of cells inside the lobules or milk ducts in the breast. If the cells show atypicality, then following is advised:

  • Clinical breast examination every 6-12 months
  • Have a mammogram every year
  • Talk with a health care provider about screening with breast MRI every year

 Women have a relatively higher risk of developing cancer. They need to discuss and follow screening/ preventive protocols as per doctors’ advice.
Fibrocystic changes: are caused by hormonal changes that occur in a menstrual cycle. These are mostly seen in young women and are usually associated with premenstrual discomfort/ pain in both the breasts.
Fibroadenomas: are solid benign tumors that are round, rubbery and move freely when pushed or felt. These are painless and common between the ages of 20-40 years and are also formed due to hormonal changes during menses.
Intraducta lpapillomas: are small wart like growths within the mammary ducts near the nipple. They can cause bleeding from the nipple or nipple discharge
Infection or mastitis: may or may not be associated with lactation. If associated with lactation, it is usually due to ducts blocked with milk. Bacteria enters through cracks in the nipple and an abscess can form with enlarged lymph nodes in the arm pits. Warm water fomentation and continued breast feeding, antibiotics are the main lines of treatment. Sometimes the abscess may need incision and drainage and the swab sent for culture.
If not associated with lactation, infection may be due to diabetes or lowered immunity.


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