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Benign (Non Cancerous) Breast Disease

Benign breast disease represents a spectrum of disorders that can present as an imaging abnormality (BIRADS I, II or III), palpable lesions found on clinical breast exam or symptoms described by a patient. These may include irregular lumps or cysts, breast discomfort, sensitive nipples and itching.

Symptoms may change throughout the menstrual cycle, usually stop after menopause and can affect both men and women. Some benign breast conditions can cause discomfort or pain and need treatment but in many cases require no treatment at all. Treatment of benign breast disease is aimed towards monitoring or surveillance, symptom relief, education and support for the patient, family or significant others.

Some common types of benign breast disease are listed below with a brief description.

  • Cysts: fluid filled sacs that are almost always benign
  • Fibroadenomas: benign solid tumors most common in younger woman 15 to 35 years of age
  • Fibrocystic changes: often referred to as painful, lumpy breasts with symptoms that are usually worse during a women's monthly cycle and tend to subside at menopause
  • Hyperplasia: is an overgrowth of cells, can be usual or atypical but can indicate an increased risk for developing breast cancer
  • Intraductal papillomas: small growths in the ducts of the breast that can cause nipple discharge or painful lumps and most often occur in women ages 35 to 55
  • Microcalcifications: are calcium deposits that appear as white spots or flecks on mammograms. They are more common after menopause and are usually benign but more testing may be necessary, including additional mammograms with magnification views or a breast biopsy if they look suspicious
  • Benign phyllodes tumors: similar to fibroadenomas, tend to occur in women ages 30 to 50 and are usually painless.
  • Sclerosing adenosis: small sometimes painful breast lumps caused by enlarged breast lobules (milk producing sacs)