Specialties

Non-Cancerous (Benign) Breast Conditions

Non-cancerous breast conditions are very common. Further, most breast changes that are biopsied and viewed under a microscope produce benign results. Although benign breast conditions are not life-threatening, they may cause bothersome symptoms and are occasionally associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future.

Breast pain

Breast pain is a common problem encountered by many women and poorly understood. Fibrocystic breast changes, the most common cause of breast pain, is characterized by sore breasts that have areas of scar tissue and cysts. The breasts feel “lumpy” and are more tender prior to menstrual periods and improve after menstruation. Hormones do influence pain but the process is poorly understood. It is not directly associated with breast cancer. Treatment is supportive and can include pain medicines like ibuprofen and heat. Breast surgery is not usually necessary unless trying to rule out another process. Mammogram and ultrasound are tests used to evaluate this process.

Nipple discharge

Drainage from the nipple is a common problem. It is divided into bloody drainage and non- bloody drainage. Non-bloody drainage is usually benign and not commonly associated with breast cancer. Bloody drainage has a 10 % risk of being associated with a cancerous process. The most common finding is a small growth within the duct called a papilloma. This causes the discharge. Many times these are removed to treat the discharge and exclude a cancerous growth. Tests that help decide on treatment are mammogram, ultrasound and ductogram. A ductogram involves injecting dye into the milk duct and taking x-rays. Overall, most nipple discharges are not cancerous problems but do need to be evaluated by your doctor to exclude cancer.

Fibroadenoma

These are non-cancerous tumors most commonly seen in young women. They are rubbery lumps that can be sore and grow due to estrogen. They grow slowly except during pregnancy when they can grow faster. Ultrasound is the best test and these can be biopsied. Treatment includes observation versus removal. There is a low risk of cancer and they rarely turn into cancer. The cancerous counterpart of the tumor is a phyllodes tumor and these require removal.

Patients with benign breast conditions come to us from Burlington, High Point, Greensboro, Kernersville, Winston-Salem and surrounding communities.