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Breast Evaluation and Treatment

Prevention and Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Benign Breast Conditions

Most breast lumps are benign, as in fibroadenoma, a condition that affects mostly women under age 30. Fibrocystic breast disease is present in over 60% of all women. The cysts in FBD change in size with the menstrual cycle, whereas a lump from fibroadenoma does not. While most breast lumps are benign it is important to identify those that are not. If a lump is new, persistent, growing, hard, immobile and/or causing skin deformities, it should be evaluated by a health care professional.

What are benign breast conditions?
The breast is made up of two main types of tissue:

These tissues in any area of the breast can undergo changes that cause diseases or disorders, such as breast cancers or benign (non-cancerous) breast conditions.

The most common of the benign breast conditions are:

Benign breast conditions are very common. According to the American Cancer Society, these conditions can be found in nine out of ten women.

What kind of changes should I look for?

Many changes in the breast aren't cancer, but here are some changes to look for. If you notice these or any changes in your breasts for more than two weeks, tell your doctor immediately.

Breast evaluation procedures:
It is important to determine whether the problems are due to benign breast conditions or breast cancer.

What you can do:

What your physician may do:

  • locate any lump and feel its texture, size, and relationship to the skin and chest muscles
  • look for changes in the nipples or the skin of the breast
  • check lymph nodes under the armpit and above the collarbones
  • diagnostic mammography to look for masses and calcifications
  • breast ultrasound to further evaluate information from the physical examination or mammography

What are the types of biopsy?

  • fine needle aspiration - a very fine needle is guided into the suspicious area and a small sample of the tissue is removed.
  • core needle biopsy - a larger needle is guided into the lump to remove a small cylinder of tissue.

How are benign breast conditions treated?
Specific treatment for benign breast disease will be determined based on:

Treatment is usually based on treating the symptoms, and may include medications, diet changes, or minor surgical procedures.

This page was last updated on: February 28, 2008.