breast lumps and breast cancer

Do you have lumps in your breast? Does it mean you have breast cancer? This is the first thought most women have as soon as they feel lumps or some changes in their breasts. Fortunately, most breast lumps are non-cancerous or benign.

Not only women, but men can also develop benign breast lumps. This condition is referred to as benign breast disease. While these breast changes are not cancerous or fatal, they may increase your risk of getting breast cancer later in life.

This article contains all the necessary details regarding causes, symptoms, and all the common benign breast disease types. Read on and expand your knowledge on the same. 


Is Benign Breast Disease Common?

Benign breast lumps are very common in women. Studies suggest that approximately half of all women will experience fibrocystic changes that result in non-cancerous breast lumps at some point in their lifetime. Varying hormone levels usually cause these breast tissue changes.


Are You At Risk For Benign Breast Disease?

Benign breast disease affects everyone irrespective of gender. Men can get enlarged, swollen breasts with lumps, which is a condition known as gynecomastia. You are at risk for the disease if you:

  • Have someone in your family with breast cancer or benign breast disease
  • Have a hormonal imbalance
  • Use hormone replacement therapy


What Are The Common Symptoms Of Benign Breast Disease?

You may observe breast changes or a lump while doing a breast self-exam, showering, or getting dressed. Oftentimes, a mammogram identifies these changes. Besides a breast lump, other common signs of benign breast disease include:

  • Breast pain (mastalgia)
  • Change in breast size, shape, or contour
  • Nipple discharge
  • Dimpled, puckered, or scaly breasts
  • Inverted, creased, or scaly nipple


What Causes Benign Breast Disease?

Some of the causes of benign breast disease include the following:

  • Scar tissue from a breast injury
  • Changes in breast tissue (fibrocystic breast changes)
  • Breast infection (mastitis)
  • Medication use, including hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills) and hormone replacement therapy
  • Hormone fluctuations, particularly during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause
  • Caffeinated beverages

Also Read: 16 Diseases That Are More Common In Men Than Women

What are the types of benign breast disease?

There are several types of benign breast disease; some of them are listed below. Remember, most of these types don't raise your cancer risk and require no treatment. Have a look -

  • Breast cysts: These are the fluid-filled sacs that are usually non-cancerous and not make you more prone to developing cancer. Breast cysts are widely common in women between the ages of 35 and 50 years. They often go away on their own after menopause unless you are taking hormone replacement therapy. 
  • Fibroadenomas: These are a common type of benign breast tumors constituting both glandular tissue and stromal tissue. Young women (those in their 20s or 30s) are more likely to develop Fibroadenomas, although it can affect women of any age group. This tumor usually shrinks when women attain menopause.
  • Fibrocystic breast changes: Varying hormone levels can make breasts feel lumpy, tender, and dense, specifically right before menstruation. Women ages 30 and 50 years are more susceptible to experience fibrocystic breast changes, which go away even without treatment.
  • Hyperplasia: It occurs because of an overgrowth of cells that edge mammary glands or ducts. A condition known as usual hyperplasia doesn’t raise cancer risk and doesn’t need treatment. If you have atypical hyperplasia, your doctor may suggest surgically eradicating the affected breast tissue because this condition can increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Intraductal papilloma: These are small, wart-like lumps that develop inside one or more mammary ducts in the breast. Intraductal papilloma can lead to nipple discharge. The condition primarily affects women ages 30 years and 50 years. Your risk of cancer increases if you have five or more papillomas at simultaneously. Surgery can eradicate these growths and minimize your cancer risk.
  • Mammary duct ectasia: Menopausal and postmenopausal women are more susceptible to develop mammary duct ectasia. You can experience nipple discharge or an inverted nipple when swollen and inflamed milk ducts are clogged. Also called periductal mastitis, this condition does not raise cancer risk. You may require antibiotics if a bacterial infection is the reason behind your inflammation and blockage. If not, you don’t require any treatment.
  • Traumatic fat necrosis: These breast lumps develop when scar tissue substitutes breast tissue that has been impaired due to an injury, radiation therapy, or surgery. These lumps don’t increase cancer risk and don’t require any treatment.


What Tests Help Diagnose Benign Breast Disease?

Consult your healthcare provider immediately if you sense a lump on your breast or notice any changes in the breast. Your healthcare provider can order one or more of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Lab tests of nipple discharge to check for cancer cells
  • Imaging scans, including ultrasounds, mammogram, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Image-guided core needle breast biopsy, excisional biopsy, or fine-needle aspiration biopsy to test cells for cancer


How Is Benign Breast Disease Treated?

Many different benign breast diseases don’t need any treatment. Your healthcare specialist may suggest a cure if you have atypical hyperplasia or the other type of benign breast disease that elevates your future breast cancer risk. If you feel pain or discomfort or are at an increased risk for cancer, the following treatments might help:

  • Surgery to remove lumps (lumpectomy)
  • Fine needle aspiration to empty fluid-filled cysts
  • Oral antibiotics for infections such as mastitis


Can Benign Breast Disease Recur?

Benign breast lumps are very common and can occur multiple times throughout your lifetime. Your breasts could feel tender or lumpy when hormone levels fluctuate because of menstruation or menopause. You should consult your healthcare specialist anytime you sense a lump or observe changes in your breast.


Tags: Benign Breast Disease Symptoms, Classification Of Breast Diseases, Fibrocystic Breast Disease, Breast Lump Getting Smaller