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Benign breast lumps – Symptoms and causes

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

Benign breast lumps


What are benign breast lumps?

Common types of benign breast lumps include:

  • Fibrocystic breasts are composed of tissue that feels lumpy or rope-like in texture. Doctors call this nodular or glandular breast tissue.
  • Breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in the breast. Breast cysts can be tiny or several inches in diameter.
  • A fibroadenoma is a noncancerous tumor in the breast that’s commonly found in women under the age of 30.The tumor consists of breast tissue and stromal, or connective, tissue. Fibroadenomas can occur in one or both breasts.
  • Intraductal papillomas are small, wart-like growths in the lining of the mammary duct near the nipple. They usually affect women who are 45 to 50. They can cause bleeding from the nipple.

How common are benign breast lumps?

Benign breast lumps are quite common. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of benign breast lumps?

The common symptoms of benign breast lumps are:

  • Lumps in your breast
  • Sometimes discomfort, including heaviness, tenderness, or burning pain
  • Breast lumps or areas of thickening that tend to blend into the surrounding breast tissue
  • Generalized breast pain or tenderness
  • Breast lumps that fluctuate in size with the menstrual cycle
  • Green or dark brown nonbloody nipple discharge that tends to leak without pressure or squeezing
  • Breast changes that are similar in both breasts
  • Monthly increase in breast pain or lumpiness from midcycle (ovulation) to just before your period
  • Solid, round, rubbery lumps that move freely

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you notice any breast changes, you should call your doctor right away to get checked, but don’t panic. Most breast lumps are benign, which means they’re not cancerous.


What causes benign breast lumps?

The causes of fibroadenomas, breast cysts, and intraductal papillomas are unknown.

Fibrocystic changes may result from repeated stimulation by the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for benign breast lumps?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are benign breast lumps diagnosed?

A breast examination is done. With the woman sitting or lying down, the doctor inspects the breasts for irregularities in shape, a nipple that turns inward (inverted nipple), and lumps. The doctor also checks for dimpling, thickening, redness, or tightening of the skin over the breast. The nipples are squeezed to check for a discharge. The armpits are checked for enlarged lymph nodes.

The doctor may examine the breast and armpits with the woman in different positions. For example, while sitting, she may be asked to press her palms together in front of the forehead. This position makes the chest muscles contract and makes subtle changes in the breast more noticeable.

The doctor may review the technique for breast self-examination with the woman during the examination. Techniques for the doctor’s examination and self-examination are similar.

Imaging tests are used to:

  • Check for breast abnormalities before they are noticed (called breast cancer screening)
  • Evaluate abnormalities that have been identified, such as a breast lump found during the doctor’s examination

Mammography involves taking x-rays of both breasts to check for abnormalities. A low dose of radiation is used. Only about 10 to 15% of abnormalities detected by mammography result from cancer. Mammography is more accurate in older women because as women age, the amount of fatty tissue increases, and abnormal tissue is easier to distinguish from fatty tissue than other kinds of breast tissue.

Ultrasonography can provide more information about abnormalities detected by mammography. For example, ultrasonography can show whether a lump is solid or is filled with fluid (a cyst). Cysts are rarely cancerous. Ultrasonography can also be used to help doctors place a biopsy needle into the abnormal tissue.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is done at the same time as mammography to screen women if they have an increased risk of developing breast cancer—for example, if they have a mutation in the gene for breast cancer (the BRCA gene).

After breast cancer is diagnosed, MRI is used to identify abnormal lymph nodes and to determine the size and number of tumors. This information can help doctors plan surgery or other treatments.

How are benign breast lumps treated?

Fibrocystic breast changes do not require treatment, but your doctor may recommend things to help relieve monthly tenderness.

Simple cysts can be treated through fine needle aspiration. You don’t need surgery to do this. A small needle is used to suck out some cells from the breast lump.

If the lump is a cyst, they can suck out the fluid and the cyst will collapse. Cysts can also go away on their own, so your doctor may choose to wait before trying to get rid of it.

Fibroadenomas and intraductal papillomas can be removed surgically.

It can be hard to tell if a lump from traumatic fat necrosis is that or something else until your doctor does a biopsy. These usually don’t need to be treated. But if the lump bothers you, it can be cut out.

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Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me managebenign breast lumps?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with benign breast lumps:

  • Wearing a soft, supportive bra, such as an athletic bra
  • Taking pain relievers such as acetaminophen
  • Have regular checkups

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.


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