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There are many different types of non-cancerous breast lumps, and a breast self-examination, coupled with regular physical check-ups, plays a crucial role in detecting any breast problems.
If you do notice a lump in your breast, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is cancerous. Many breast lumps are non-cancerous or benign, therefore, it is important to visit your doctor for more information and further evaluation.
Types of Breast Lumps
Here are the most common types of non-cancerous breast lumps.
Fibrosis and cysts are the most common types of benign breast lumps among women of childbearing age. Fibrosis will make certain parts of your breasts feel firm, rubbery, and hard while cysts are round and movable bumps in the breasts that may feel tender when touched. The latter is more common among women over 40 years of age. Fibrocystic changes have a small chance of developing into breast cancer.
Ductal and Lobular Hyperplasia
Some cells line the ducts and lobules inside the breasts. When these cells grow excessively, it leads to a condition called hyperplasia. An overgrowth in the cells lining the ducts is referred to as ductal hyperplasia, while lobular hyperplasia refers to the excessive growth of cells that line the milk glands.
Women with hyperplasia of the breast don’t notice lumps. This condition is detected through a biopsy or a mammogram.
Adenosis refers to the enlargement of the milk-producing glands in the breasts. This non-cancerous condition is often detected among women with fibrocystic changes. Adenosis can be felt as a lump in the breast, but a self-exam is not enough to make a conclusive diagnosis. A biopsy is required to determine if the breast change is cancerous or benign.
Fibroadenomas are clumps of benign breast tissue that come together and form a mass. Women in their 20s and 30s are more at risk of developing fibroadenomas. This benign breast tumor feels firm, round, and movable, but not tender. Doctors often recommend the removal of fibroadenomas to make sure that they won’t progress into breast cancer.
Phyllodes tumors are rare breast changes that happen in the breast’s stromal tissues. They are mostly painless breast lumps and are often mistaken for fibroadenomas. Women in their 40s are more at risk of developing them, especially those who have a genetic disorder called Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
Intraductal papillomas are benign tumors that grow within the milk ducts of the breast. They may develop as single papillomas in the larger milk ducts, which often cause a bloody or clear nipple discharge, or as multiple papillomas, which develop in smaller ducts located farther from the nipple.
Papillomas are detected through ductograms, but an ultrasound, mammogram, or biopsy may also be required.
Granular Cell Tumors
Granular cell tumors are firm and movable lumps that are often felt at the upper or inner parts of the breast. A diagnosis of these tumors, which are rarely cancerous, can be made through a mammogram, ultrasound, or biopsy.
An injury to the breast, radiation treatment, and breast surgery can damage fatty breast tissues, and that could lead to fat necrosis. Women with large breasts have a higher risk of developing this benign breast condition, which is commonly felt as a lump that’s often surrounded by reddish or bruised skin.
Duct Ectasia is common among women who are in the premenopausal phase. This benign breast condition refers to the widening of the breast milk ducts and thickening of the walls, which could lead to blocked milk ducts and fluid buildup. Common symptoms include thick and sticky nipple discharge, tenderness, and redness in the area surrounding the nipple, an inverted nipple, and a hard lump.
Other Non-cancerous Breast Changes
Several other breast changes that are non-cancerous include lipoma, hamartoma, hemangioma, hematoma, adenomyoepithelioma, and neurofibroma. Although they pose almost no risk of developing into breast cancer, a biopsy or surgical removal may be required to ensure that is the case.
Benign breast tumors are less likely to develop into breast cancer, but that doesn’t mean you should become complacent. Talk to your doctor to know more about your condition, the risk of developing cancer, and the steps to take to safeguard your health. Additionally, you must take measures to improve your breast health and overall physical and mental well-being.