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Noncancerous Breast Conditions

Breast Biopsy Results
Breast Biopsy Results
Frequency of various benign and malignant breast lumps among patients who have had breast biopsies

Several noncancerous (benign) conditions can appear as a lump or cause a change in the appearance of your breasts. If you notice a change that persists over 10 days or past your monthly cycle, call your doctor immediately. While it’s true that eight out of 10 breast lumps are noncancerous, a biopsy is the only way to tell definitively whether a solid lump is cancerous or not.

Some noncancerous breast lumps may not require treatment. Benign lumps do not change into cancerous lumps. However, because cancer sometimes develops near benign lumps, your doctor will probably want you to have more frequent checkups. Some common, noncancerous breast changes are fibrocystic conditions, cysts, fibroadenoma and mastitis.

Fibrocystic Breast Condition

This condition, commonly called “lumpy breasts”, is the most common breast condition. Fibrocystic changes occur most often in women ages 35 to 50. Symptoms occur during the menstrual cycle and can include breast pain, tenderness and fullness in the part of the breast closest to the armpit.

Although the cause is unknown, the condition may be associated with hormones produced by the ovaries and the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands. Fibrocystic changes do not increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. However, any breast lump should be evaluated to rule out the possibility of cancer.

Some women find that changes in their diet can reduce the severity of fibrocystic changes. Eliminating coffee, tea, colas, chocolate and other foods with caffeine may help. Your doctor also may recommend that you wear loose clothing, support bras for exercise and padded bras to sleep.

Cysts

Usually found in women ages 35 to 50, cysts are round, moveable, fluid-filled lumps that can be large enough to be easily felt or so small they can only be detected by a mammogram. Cysts can occur alone or in multiples. Postmenopausal women taking estrogen replacement therapy can also develop cysts. Although cysts are usually noncancerous, they may require diagnosis by needle biopsy (or aspiration) or by a combination of mammography and ultrasound.

Fibroadenoma

Usually painless, these solid, noncancerous lumps appear most often in women who are between the ages of 20 and 40. On breast examination, these lumps feel firm, rubbery and may move around. They do not usually change shape during the menstrual cycle. Although these lumps are easily detected by mammography, your physician will probably order a biopsy to be sure the lump is noncancerous.

Mastitis

This inflammation of the breast is found most often in women who are breast-feeding. Mastitis may be accompanied by infection and is usually treated with antibiotics. If you notice that your breasts are red or inflamed, see your doctor immediately. These symptoms could also indicate the presence of an infection or inflammatory breast cancer.

Pain

Hormones play a factor in most cases of breast pain. Fibrocystic Breast Condition is the most common cause of breast pain in premenopausal women ages 35 to 50. However, many older women, especially those on hormone replacements, may also experience some degree of breast pain. The pain may be mild to severe. It usually occurs throughout both breasts, but some women report that it occurs mostly in the upper, outer quadrants.

LCIS (Lobular Carcinoma In Situ)

LCIS is a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a milk lobule. Although LCIS is not considered to be breast cancer, it is considered to be a high-risk lesion. LCIS is sometimes found when a biopsy is done for another lump or abnormality discovered on a mammogram.

Patients with LCIS have a 25 percent chance of developing breast cancer in either breast during the next 25 years. Although no additional treatment is required after the initial biopsy, diligent mammography is needed every 12 months.

Although no additional treatment is required after the initial biopsy, diligent mammography is needed every 12 months.

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