Non-Cancerous Breast Lumps
Non-cancerous or benign breast conditions are common. Most women will develop one in their lifetime. Non-cancerous breast conditions are benign, which is the opposite of malignant (containing cancer). They are just breast changes that do not qualify as cancer. They are common, and most women have them. In fact, most of the sampled breast changes (biopsy samples from the breast) show conditions that are benign, and not life-threatening. Sometimes, however, they can produce bothersome symptoms. Additionally, some non-cancerous breast conditions are linked to higher risks of developing breast cancer in the future.
What parts of my breast could be affected by breast conditions?
Any of the main parts of your breast can undergo changes that cause symptoms. These changes can either be benign breast conditions or cancers. Breasts have two main types of tissues. Glandular Tissues: This part of your breast includes your lobules and ducts. When you are breastfeeding the cells in your lobules make milk for your baby. The milk moves through your ducts, which are tiny tubes that move milk to the nipple. Each of your breasts has several ducts leading to your nipple. Supporting (Stromal) Tissues: The support tissues of your breasts include fatty tissue and fibrous connective tissue. Supporting (stromal) tissues give your breasts their size and shape.
Here is a list of the more common breast conditions. These are not cancer and are not life-threatening:
- Duct Etasia
- Ductal or Lobular Hyperplasia
- Fat Necrosis and Oil Cysts
- Fibrosis and Simple Cysts
- Granular Cell Tumors
- Intraductal Papillomas
- Lobal Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)
- Phyllodes Tumors
- Radial Scars
Difference between benign conditions or cancer in my breast
It is important that you let your doctor know about any changes you notice. Benign conditions have many of the same symptoms as breast cancer. It can be difficult to tell the difference between benign and cancerous conditions from your symptoms alone. Your doctor will be able to perform other tests to find out exactly what is causing changes in your breast. Sometimes, breast changes do not cause any symptoms and can only be detected by a mammogram. Before a mammogram is performed.
Lumps: Benign breast conditions often cause lumps. Your breast lump may or may not feel tender. You may find a lump while showering or during your other daily activities. The younger you are, the more likely it is that your breast lump will be benign. Most lumps aren’t breast cancer, but there is always a chance that a lump may be breast cancer, even in young women. No matter how old you are, if you notice a lump then by all means get it checked. Tender lumps that come up at the same time as skin redness and fever could be a sign of an infection in your breast. If you notice any new lumps, you should be checked out by a healthcare professional.
Nipple Discharge: Discharge other than milk coming from the nipple may be unnerving, but a benign breast condition almost always causes it. If you have a benign condition, your non-milky discharge is usually clear, yellow, or green. Even if you see blood in your discharge or if blood comes up in the lab test, the cause of the discharge is likely not cancer. However, it is a concern, and you will likely need more testing. Discharge may come out of more than one breast duct, or from one or both of your breasts. See a doctor right away if you are experiencing discharge. If you are not pregnant or breastfeeding and you notice a milky discharge coming from both of your breasts, it could be caused by an imbalance of hormones in your thyroid gland, or by certain drugs that contain hormones. Your breasts sometimes leak milky discharge in response to your menstrual cycle.
Pain: It is common to have breast pain or discomfort that is related to your menstrual cycle. This type of breast pain is most common in a week or so before the start of your period, and it often fades once your period begins. This type of cyclical breast pain is thought to be caused by changes in hormone levels, and in some cases, fibrocystic changes. Breast inflammation, or mastitis, may cause a more sudden type of breast pain.
Skin Thickening or Redness: Skin redness or thickening can have different causes. Inflammation of the breast is common in women who are breastfeeding, and it is usually caused by an infection. However, you should have a doctor or a nurse inspect you if you develop any new redness or thickening because inflammatory breast cancer can look a lot like an infection. Doctors have a hard time diagnosing this type of breast cancer because of this, and your doctor may put you on antibiotics. This type of breast cancer grows quickly, so you need to go back to your doctor immediately if your symptoms don’t get better after a few days of antibiotics.
Breast conditions can be very mysterious and quick-acting. Go to your doctor right away if you start experiencing strange symptoms of changes in your breast. Make sure you check yourself for lumps in the shower and don’t procrastinate on getting regular mammograms.
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