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Benign Breast Lumps

When we detect a lump on our breasts, it is normal to wonder: Is it cancer?

Though more than 80% of breast lumps found are benign or non-cancerous, it is important to seek help from a doctor should you notice any changes.

What are benign breast lumps?

Breast lumps are the most common presentation in breast cancer. Thus, if you feel a lump in your breast, your first thought may be that you have breast cancer.

More than 80% of breast lumps are are benign or non-cancerous. They can either be a solid nodule or fluid-filled cyst. In fact, most benign breast lumps do not need any sort of treatment.


Our doctor can tell if a lump is cancerous by removing a small sample of tissue or cells from it, via biopsies or aspirations.

Both women and men can develop benign (non-cancerous) breast lumps. This condition is known as benign breast disease. While these breast changes aren’t cancerous or life-threatening, they may increase your risk of developing breast cancer later on.

How common are benign breast lumps?

Benign breast lumps in women are common. Up to half of all women will experience fibrocystic changes that cause non-cancerous breast lumps at some point in their lives. Fluctuating hormone levels often cause these breast tissue changes.

 Your risk for benign breast disease increases if you:

  • Have a family history of breast cancer or benign breast disease.

  • Are going through a course of hormone replacement therapy.

  • Have a hormonal imbalance.

What causes benign breast lumps to develop?

Common causes of non-cancerous breast lumps include:

  • Changes in breast tissue (fibrocystic breast changes).

  • Breast infection (mastitis)

  • Scar tissue from a breast injury.

  • Hormone fluctuations, especially during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause.

  • Medication use, such as hormonal contraceptives (e.g. birth control pills) and hormone replacement therapy.

What are the symptoms of benign breast disease?

You may notice breast changes or a lump while doing a breast self-examination, showering or getting dressed. Sometimes a mammogram detects these changes. Besides a breast lump, other signs of benign breast disease include:

  • Breast pain (mastalgia).

  • Nipple discharge.

  • Change in breast size, shape or contour.

  • Inverted, creased or scaly nipple.

  • Dimpled, puckered or scaly breasts.

How can I prevent benign breast disease?

There isn’t much you can do to lower your risk of benign breast disease. These actions may lower cancer risk and help detect disease early when it’s most treatable:

  • Get regular mammogram screenings.

  • Perform self-exams to get familiar with how your breasts look and feel.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Eat a nutritious diet.

  • Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.

  • Quit smoking.

  • Reconsider the use of hormone replacement therapy.

  • Switch to a non-hormonal birth control option.

What should I do if I discover a lump on my breasts?

Notify your doctor anytime you notice changes in how your breasts look or feel. Our experienced doctor will help guide you through diagnosing and treating your condition and get you back to your daily life with a peace of mind.

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