Breast Disease » Benign Breast Conditions
Benign breast conditions are not cancerous or life-threatening. They can however present with symptoms similar to breast cancer so any symptoms need to be checked by your doctor.
A fibroadenoma is a benign tumour made up of both glandular breast tissue and stromal (connective) tissue and tends to be more common in women of 20-30 years age Some fibroadenomas can grow to a significant size. They tend to be round and can feel quite hard within the breast. They can also be too small to feel and can be seen only under a microscope. Some women may only have one, others can have many.
Fibrocystic change is the most common benign breast condition especially in women of child-bearing age. Changes in the breast tissue are often in response to hormonal changes.
The main features of fibrocystic changes are fibrosis and cysts. Areas of fibrosis can feel rubbery or firm to touch. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs within the breast
Hyperplasia is a condition where an overgrowth of cells occurs in the lining of the ducts or the lobules. Ductal Hyperplasia is hyperplasia occurring in the ducts. Lobular Hyperplasia occurs in the lobules.
Atypical Hyperplasia is a condition where the cells become slightly distorted in how they are arranged. Atypical Hyperplasia can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Phylloides are rare benign breast tumours, and like fibroadenomas, they also contain the 2 tissue types, glandular and connective tissue. The main difference under a microscope is that the Phylloides tumour shows an overgrowth of connective tissue.
They can present as a painful or painless lump, and is more common in women of 30-40 years age.
Intraductal Papillomas are benign tumours growing within the breast ducts close to the nipple. Clear or bloody discharge from the nipple of one breast can be caused by Intraductal Papillomas. They are not known to increase the risk of breast cancer, unless they contain other relevant changes such as Atypical Hyperplasia.
Papillomas can also be found further from the nipple in small ducts. In this case, frequently more than one papilloma exists. Multiple papillomas are less likely to cause any nipple discharge. However multiple papillomas are linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Inflammation of the breast is called Mastitis and is often caused by a breast infection affecting breast-feeding women. It is normal for the body’s white blood cells to release substances to fight the infection. This causes swelling and increased blood flow. The affected area may become red, painful and feel warm to touch.
Normal treatment requires antibodies. In some cases an abscess (pus collection) may form which requires draining of the pus for relief.
Mastitis does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
There are many reasons for nipple discharge and most are not cancer. If the discharging fluid looks clear, milky or green it is unlikely to be cancer. However it is concerning and needs further investigation. If the discharging fluid is red or red-brown, suggesting it contains blood, this could be due to cancer but is more likely due to injury, infection or some form of benign tumour.