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Perhaps you may be wondering whether or not benign breast conditions are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Both women and men can develop benign (noncancerous) breast lumps due to changes in the breast tissue. 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.
Benign Breast Lumps
So, where are benign breast lumps usually found? Benign breast lumps usually have smooth edges and can be moved slightly when you push against them. They are often found in both breasts. There are several common causes, including normal changes in breast tissue, breast infections, or injury. Breast tissue changes during a woman’s entire life.
These benign conditions are divided into three risk categories:
No Increase in Breast Cancer Risk
Benign breast conditions that are highly unlikely to develop into breast cancer are breast cysts, fibrocystic breast changes, fibroadenoma, and central intraductal papilloma. These conditions tend to appear due to hormone fluctuations, such as before or during the menstruation period, or as they approach or after they reach the premenopausal stage.
A Slight Increase in Breast Cancer Risk
Benign breast tumors linked to a slight increase of breast cancer risk are those conditions involving the growth of “lesions without atypia.” These include ductal or lobular hyperplasia, adenosis, radial scars, and fibromatosis. Although there’s only a small possibility that these tumors will turn into breast cancer, your doctor will provide some recommendations that involve lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy foods and regular exercise.
A Moderate Increase in Breast Cancer Risk
Benign breast tumors involving the overgrowth of breast cells that have some characteristics of early forms of cancer cells pose a moderate risk of turning into breast cancer. Also referred to as atypical hyperplasia, conditions such as lobular neoplasia and atypical ductal hyperplasia, mean you need to take better care of your breasts. Experiencing any of these makes it essential to consult your doctor for recommendations on how to lower your breast cancer risk.
Your risk of getting breast cancer also increases with the following risk factors:
- Family history of cancer
- Sedentary lifestyle
- No pregnancy
- Hormone therapy
- Breast implants.
When To Call a Doctor
Although benign breast tumors rarely turn into breast cancer, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult your doctor. You must seek medical assistance when you notice any unusual mass on one or both of your breasts. Other signs that call for the help of a healthcare provider include tenderness, redness, nipple inversion, nipple discharge, or dimpled skin.
During your initial appointment, the doctor will take your health history, do a breast exam, and discuss the initial findings. Other more extensive tests may be required, such as Breast MRI, needle aspiration, or biopsy.
Treatment For Breast Lumps
Some benign breast conditions do not require treatment. For example, lumps linked to menstruation often disappear once the cycle ends. However, some cases require medical intervention, such as taking antibiotics, fluid drainage, or surgery.
Related Article: Different Kinds of Breast Lumps
Follow-Up Care for Benign Breast Tumors
If you have a non-cancerous breast condition, you may be required to see your doctor regularly. Follow-up mammograms and clinical exams may be requested within 6 to 12 months for close monitoring. Your doctor may also recommend surgery depending on your condition.
Medication To Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risks
Selective estrogen receptor modulators, namely Tamoxifen and Raloxifene, are the most common medications used to reduce breast cancer risks among women. Studies reveal that these drugs, when taken for five years, balance estrogen levels in the breast cells to minimize the risk of getting breast cancer by 40%.
However, this will depend on your baseline risk, which means these drugs won’t make a noticeable difference if your baseline risk is already low. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene have also been used to prevent osteoporosis, especially among older and postmenopausal women.
Using Medicine to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Chemoprevention, or the process that involves the use of medicines to minimize the risk of getting a specific disease, will only be recommended by your healthcare provider if your risk of breast cancer is higher than average. Aside from that, you and your doctor will have to determine if the positive effects outweigh the possible side effects of taking the drugs.
Lifestyle Changes to Minimize Breast Cancer Risks
Aside from taking drugs, making positive changes to your lifestyle can reduce your breast cancer risks. These include staying physically fit, exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, not drinking alcoholic beverages, and quitting cigarette smoking.
Having a breast lump, whether benign or malignant, is something you don’t want to occur. In most cases, having a lump in your breast doesn’t automatically equate to breast cancer, but it is still important to have yourself checked for proper diagnosis and treatment.