Is A Benign Breast Lump A Cause For Concern
Unlike a cancerous tumor, which can potentially invade nearby tissues and spread to distant organs, a benign mass is not life-threatening, cannot metastasize and may not require treatment. After diagnosing a benign breast lump, a physician may simply suggest a “wait-and-watch” approach to monitor the mass for changes. Surgical removal may be recommended if a noncancerous mass grows large enough to cause discomfort or press on a vital structure, such as a nerve or blood vessel.
Clinical Presentation And Diagnosis
A fibroadenoma is most often detected incidentally during a medical examination or during self examination, usually as a discrete solitary breast mass of 1 to 2 cm., Although they can be located anywhere in the breast, the majority are situated in the upper outer quadrant. A fibroadenoma is usually smooth, mobile, nontender, and rubbery in consistency . Several other breast lesions have similar characteristics, and physical examinations provided an accurate diagnosis in only one half to two thirds of cases studied., However, most of the masses that are erroneously diagnosed by palpation as fibroadenomas are found on histologic examination to be another benign form of breast disease, such as cystic fibrosis.
Macroscopic appearance of a fibroadenoma. The spherical mass is sharply circumscribed, and could be easily separated from the surrounding breast tissue. The section margins have a green-white color, and contain slit-like spaces.
Fibroadenoma And Breast Cancer
Any analysis of the associations of fibroadenomas with breast cancer must address two main questions: whether or not a fibroadenoma is a marker for increased risk of breast cancer, and whether or not breast cancer can evolve from the epithelial component of a fibroadenoma. The first issue was originally assessed in several retrospective studies,, â which demonstrated a 1.3 to 2.1 increased risk of breast cancer in women with fibroadenomas compared with the general population. The elevated risk was persistent, and did not decrease with time. A more recent study designed to delineate the possible correlation between the histologic features of the fibroadenomas and the risk for subsequent breast cancer used the term âcomplex fibroadenoma.â This term applies to fibroadenomas having the histologic characteristic of being more than 3 mm in diameter, or with elements of sclerosing adenosis, epithelial calcifications, or papillary apocrine metaplasia, which were associated with a 3.1 elevated risk of breast cancer. Proliferative changes in the parenchyma adjacent to the fibroadenoma were related to a further increase of the risk to 3.88. The relative risk for women with a familial history of breast cancer and complex fibroadenoma was 3.72, compared with control women with a family history of breast cancer without fibroadenoma. In these studies, women with noncomplex fibroadenomas and no family history of breast cancer were not at a greater risk of breast cancer.
Also Check: What To Eat During Breast Cancer Treatment
Can A Benign Breast Lump Become Cancerous
Breast lumps often form when excess cells accumulate and bind together. One common type of benign breast mass is a fibroadenoma, which can develop if breast tissue grows over a milk-producing gland . Like most breast lumps, fibroadenomas are not serious and will not become cancerous. Even so, it is important to have any breast mass promptly evaluated by a medical professional, who can determine whether it is benign or malignant, usually by performing imaging tests and a biopsy.
Fibrosis And Simple Cysts In The Breast
Many breast lumps turn out to be caused by fibrosis and/or cysts, which are non-cancerous changes in breast tissue that many women get at some time in their lives. These changes are sometimes called fibrocystic changes, and used to be called fibrocystic disease.
Fibrosis and cysts are most common in women of child-bearing age, but they can affect women of any age. They may be found in different parts of the breast and in both breasts at the same time.
Recommended Reading: Who Is At High Risk For Breast Cancer
Cancer Tumors Versus Cysts And Fibroadenomas
Cysts, which are fluid-filled lumps, are common in the breast and are benign. They form when fluid builds up inside breast glands, and tend to be smooth or round. Fibroadenomas, which are benign tumors made up of glandular and connective breast tissue, are usually smooth and firm or rubbery to the touch. Both of these conditions tend to affect younger women fibroadenomas are most common in women in their 20s and 30s, and cysts are most common in women under 40.
Despite these common descriptions, it is impossible to tell by touch whether a lump is cancer.
The Differences Between A Breast Cyst And A Tumor
If you have a breast lump, its important that you have a doctor make the diagnosis as soon as possible. While there are some telltale differences between a cyst and a tumor, these differences can be subtle. Plus, there are always exceptions to these norms.
A physical exam can give your doctor a general idea of whether youre dealing with a cyst or a tumor.
The next step is usually an ultrasound test.
If soundwaves pass right through the lump, that means its filled with liquid and is a simple cyst. If the soundwaves echo back, it means theres at least some solid matter and more testing will be needed to reach a diagnosis.
If the ultrasound shows a complex or complicated cyst, the next steps may include:
- a mammogram or MRI to get a better view of the entire breast
- aspiration or draining the cyst with a fine needle to see if the fluid contains any blood or unusual cells.
- a biopsy to determine if the solid areas are cancerous or benign
In an estimated 1.6 million breast biopsies a year in the United States, 75 percent are benign.
A simple cyst is no cause for concern and doesnt necessarily need to be treated. Your doctor may suggest a wait and see approach because cysts sometimes go away on their own.
For cysts that continue to cause discomfort, your doctor can drain the cyst or surgically remove it.
According to the American Cancer Society, simple cysts dont increase your risk of developing breast cancer, though theres a small chance that complex cysts may.
You May Like: How Often Does Breast Cancer Spread To Brain
Diagnosis Of Benign Breast Conditions
The tests and procedures used to diagnose a benign breast condition are often the same as those used to diagnose breast cancer. The goals of diagnosis are to:
- make sure that the growth or other change detected is really benign
- determine whether the condition is associated with any increase in cancer risk
Procedures could include:
Your testing plan will depend on your symptoms and what type of benign breast condition is suspected. Your doctor might not be able to tell you much until the test results come back. Waiting is hard, but remember that benign conditions are more common than breast cancer.
In most cases, todays imaging techniques are advanced enough to tell the difference between a benign breast condition and cancer, notes Alan Stolier, M.D., a surgical breast oncologist with St. Charles Surgical Hospital and the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans. If anything about the imaging is suspicious, we will go a step further with biopsy, he says. If we dont recommend anything else be done, we have a high level of confidence it is benign.
Incidence And Risk Factors
There are no clear-cut data on the incidence of fibroadenomas in the general population. In one study, the rate of occurrence of fibroadenomas in women who were examined in breast clinics was 7% to 13%, while it was 9% in another study of autopsies. Fibroadenomas comprise about 50% of all breast biopsies, and this rate rises to 75% for biopsies in women under the age of 20 years., Fibroadenomas are more frequent among women in higher socioeconomic classes â and in dark-skinned populations. The age of menarche, the age of menopause, and hormonal therapy, including oral contraceptives, were shown not to alter the risk of these lesions., , , Conversely, body mass index and the number of full-term pregnancies were found to have a negative correlation with the risk of fibroadenomas.â, , Moreover, consumption of large quantities of vitamin C and cigarette smoking were found to be associated with reduced risk of a fibroadenoma., ,
No genetics factors are known to alter the risk of fibroadenoma. However, a family history of breast cancer in first-degree relatives was reported by some investigators to be related with increased risk of developing these tumors.,
Read Also: Can I Get Disability For Breast Cancer
Request An Appointment At Moffitt Cancer Center
Please call for support from a Moffitt representative. New Patients and Healthcare Professionals can submit an online form by selecting the appropriate buttonbelow. Existing patients can call . for a current list of insurances accepted at Moffitt.
NEW PATIENTS To request a new patient appointment, please fill out the online form or call 1-888-663-3488.
REFERRING PHYSICIANS Providers and medical staff can refer patients by submitting our online referral form.
Moffit now offers Virtual Visits for patients. If you are eligible for a virtual appointment, our scheduling team will discuss this option further with you.
Moffitt Cancer Center is committed to the health and safety of our patients and their families. For more information on how were protecting our new and existing patients, visit our COVID-19 Info Hub
What Is Fat Necrosis
Fat necrosis is a condition in which painless, round, firm lumps caused by damaged and disintegrating fatty tissues form in the breast tissue. Fat necrosis often occurs in women with very large breasts or who have had a bruise or blow to the breast. This condition may also be the result of a lumpectomy and radiation from a prior cancerous lump. In some cases, healthcare providers will watch the lump through several menstrual cycles. He or she may want to do a mammogram before deciding whether to remove it. These lumps are not cancerous and they do not increase your risk of cancer.
You May Like: What Is Er Negative Breast Cancer
What Is The Difference Between A Hematoma And A Breast Cancer Tumor
A breast cancer tumor is a malignant growth in the breast that needs to be removed right away. If left too long, it can become life-threatening. In comparison, a hematoma in the breast is not a serious matter. Unfortunately, though, they can sometime make it difficult to monitor the breasts for the subsequent regrowth of cancer, if they occur after cancerous tumors have been surgically removed.
DID YOU KNOW?
Apart from being a painkiller, aspirin can affect the blood flow as well. Women taking aspirin for pain related to the breast are most likely to develop hematomas. This happens because aspirin causes blood to clot more slowly.
Features Of Calcifications: Suspicious Or Not
Certain features of calcifications can help your doctor judge whether they are resulting from a process that is: benign, likely benign, or possibly cancer. These classifications have to do with size, appearance, and how the calcifications are distributed in the breast.
Generally, calcifications are more likely to signal a benign process if they:
- are larger than 0.5 millimeters
- have well-defined edges and fairly standard shapes
- are not clustered in one area of the breast
They are more likely to be associated with a cancerous process if they:
- are smaller than 0.5 mm each
- vary in size and shape
- are clustered in one area of the breast
If calcifications are suspicious, further tests are needed.
NOTE: If calcifications clearly are located in the skin rather than in the breast tissue itself, no further testing is required. It might be necessary to take additional mammography views to confirm this is the case. Sometimes, powder or deodorant residue on the skin can show up as calcifications. Also, if the calcifications are clearly inside the blood vessels of the breast, there is no need for more testing.
Size: larger is less suspicious
Based on their size, calcifications typically are classified as either:
Sometimes there can be a mix of macro- and microcalcifications.
Appearance: standard sizes and shapes are less suspicious
Large, coarse, popcorn-like macrocalcifications can be associated with a benign breast tumor called fibroadenoma.
Don’t Miss: What To Do If Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
What Are The Causes Of Fibroadenoma
The exact causes of fibroadenomas are not known. It is believed to be related to changes in reproductive hormones because fibroadenomas tend to occur in premenopausal women.
Fibroadenomas have been found to change characteristics with hormonal variations. They may increase during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and use of hormone therapy. They may shrink after menopause or when hormone levels decrease e.g., withdrawal of hormone therapy.
How Are Breast Hematomas Diagnosed
If you perform regular breast self-examinations, you may notice larger breast hematomas in your breasts. They can be felt as lumps just under the surface of the skin. And sometimes the skin itself appears bruised. Sometimes hematomas are quite small and it is unlikely you will notice them in your self-examinations. Most breast hematomas will be picked up by mammogram or ultrasound, and usually they are very recognizable so they dont require biopsy.
Detecting Breast Cancer Earlier
Breast cancer cant usually be prevented, but you can take three important steps to help detect it earlier. The free resource, 3 Steps to Early Detection, can increase your chance of finding breast cancer before it spreads.
Tell us where we can send you your copy.
Materials on this page provided by: Johns Hopkins Medicine
What Should I Do If I Find A Lump While Breastfeeding
Breast cancer in women of childbearing age is not common, and lumps found while breastfeeding are likely to be benign. Breast changes while nursing are normal and may include a clogged milk duct or mastitis. However, it is important to report any new lump to your doctor to make sure it is benign and get treatment to help alleviate any discomfort.
You May Like: What Age Could You Get Breast Cancer
What Does A Breast Lump Feel Like
In general, cancerous breast lumps tend to be more irregular in shape. They may also feel firm or solid, and might be fixed to the tissue in the breast. They are also often painless. However, in a small percentage of women, a painful breast lump turns out to be cancer.
Breast cancer lumps can vary in size. Typically, a lump has to be about one centimeter before a person can feel it however, it depends on where the lump arises in the breast, how big the breast is, and how deep the lesion is.
Living With Benign Breast Conditions
The pain and tenderness of a benign breast condition can be uncomfortable. Your sleep position and clothing can affect your pain level.
Living with benign breast conditions can be emotionally hard, as well. Many women are worried that a non-cancerous lump will turn into cancer. While thats not likely, there is a small chance it could happen. Your doctor may recommend regular screenings of your breasts. That might increase your worry and anxiety. It also can be expensive. Regular mammograms increase your exposure to radiation.
Also Check: How Likely Am I To Get Breast Cancer
Lifestyle Factors During Childhood And The Teen Years
Some lifestyle factors during childhood and the teen years may be linked to the risk of benign breast conditions in adulthood.
Some factors may be linked to an increased risk. For example, women who drink alcohol during the teen years may have an increased risk of benign breast conditions .
Other factors may be linked to a decreased risk. For example, women who eat nuts , beans and foods that contain carotenoids during the teen years may have a decreased risk of benign breast conditions .
Also, girls who are heavy at age 10 may have a lower risk of benign breast conditions in young adulthood than girls who are lean at age 10 .
However, being heavy during childhood and the teen years is not advised as its linked to an increased risk of heart disease and many other health conditions in adulthood .
These topics are under study.
What Is A Benign Breast Condition
A benign breast condition refers to a lump, cyst, or nipple discharge of the female or male breast that is not cancerous. For women, the most common ones are:
- Fibrocystic breast changes. Fibrosis feels like scar tissue and can be rubbery and firm. Cysts are sacs filled with fluid. They may enlarge and feel tender right before your period.
- These are the most common breast lumps in younger women and are usually small.
- Your breast can become enlarged because of infection. This can happen to anyone but usually happens when breastfeeding.
- Fat necrosis. These lumps form when areas of fatty breast tissue are damaged.
- Small spots of calcium salts can show up anywhere in breast tissue. Usually, you cant feel them and theyre not painful.
- Nipple discharge. Your nipples may leak fluid for a variety of reasons.
- These are made up of mostly fat tissue.
Less common types of benign breast conditions include:
- This is an abnormal increase in cell growth in the breast.
- The lobules in your breasts can become enlarged and contain more glands than usual.
- Intraductal papillomas. Small tumors can form in your nipples milk ducts.
Female breasts are very complex. Theyre filled with glands , fat, and fibrous tissue. Within each breast, there are 15 to 20 lobes of glands and fibrous tissue.
Men can have breast issues, too, although theyre rare. The most common benign breast condition in men is gynecomastia. This condition causes enlarged breast tissue.
You May Like: How Often Chemo For Breast Cancer