Benign Breast Disease
We treat noncancerous (benign) breast diseases in women, men, teenagers and adolescents. Our team has extensive experience diagnosing and treating benign breast disease.
In 70 percent of cases, benign breast disease is harmless and patients do not require treatment. For the other 30 percent, treatment and monitoring may be required. Some benign breast diseases can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Symptoms of Benign Breast Disease
Most breast symptoms are normal, related to a woman’s monthly cycle and not a sign of disease. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, and they last for a few weeks, contact your physician for an evaluation:
- Breast lump
- Nipple discharge
- Skin changes on the breast or nipple, like a rash or puckering
Breast pain is another common breast symptom, but is rarely a sign of breast cancer or benign breast disease. However, if breast pain persists for a few weeks, see your doctor.
Types of Benign Breast Disease
The most common forms of benign breast disease include:
- Cysts. A fluid-filled sac in the breast that may come and go, and is not cancerous.
- Fibroadenomas. A solid, benign breast tumor that most often occurs in women between ages 15 and 35.
- Hyperplasia. When the cells in the duct lining grow faster than normal and pile up on each other. This condition is most often detected during a mammogram, which shows abnormal calcifications. This condition may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
- Intraductal papillomas. A polyp, or growth, behind the nipple that can cause bloody nipple discharge in adolescents and adults.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ. A noncancerous breast disease that causes abnormal cell growth and may increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Sclerosing adenosis. The abnormal development of collagen and overproduction of cells that creates a lump in the lobule of the breast.
Benign Breast Disease in Teens
Breast disease can affect girls and women from their adolescent years to post-menopause. We see women of all ages for the diagnosis and treatment of benign breast disease.
Although breast cancer is an unusual occurrence in the pediatric or adolescent population, during hormonal changes, the breast can develop benign disorders or tumors that require evaluation and sometimes treatment.
We understand the anxiety a teenage patient may feel in seeing a breast specialist. We offer a respectful and compassionate environment to our young patients.
If an adolescent has unusual breast changes, we will conduct a thorough examination and discuss her family history of breast disease. If a diagnostic test is needed, we will perform an ultrasound. Surgery is rarely needed for the removal of benign tumors and many cases can be managed with routine follow-up care, medication or lifestyle changes.
Who Is at Risk for Benign Breast Disease?
The following factors can increase a woman’s risk for benign breast disease:
- Age. The more menstrual cycles a woman has – up to 600 in a lifetime – the more cellular activity she has in her breasts. These cycles of activity provide the opportunity for cellular errors to occur, which can lead to benign breast disease.
- Not having a pregnancy. In pregnancy, a woman’s milk glands fully mature. Experts believe less mature glands predispose a woman to abnormal changes during cellular division.
- Dense breast tissue. While experts are unsure why, women with dense breast tissue are at a higher risk for benign breast disease and breast cancer.
- Family history. A family history of benign breast disease or breast cancer may increase a person’s risk.
- Lifestyle factors and exposure to endocrine disruptors. Smoking, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol and products that contain endocrine disruptors (found in many pesticides, plastics, cosmetics and cleaning products) may increase a woman’s risk of benign breast disease and breast cancer.
Benign Breast Disease Diagnosis
Benign breast disease is diagnosed with:
- A clinical physical exam.
- A radiologic exam, such as a mammogram for adults or ultrasound for adolescents and teens. In some cases, we will also recommend an MRI.
- A biopsy if we find an abnormality that requires additional testing.
Benign Breast Disease Treatment
Treatment depends on the type of benign breast condition. Seventy percent of benign breast diseases are harmless and do not require treatment or ongoing surveillance (aside from a yearly mammogram in age-appropriate patients). If treatment is required or a patient is at high risk for breast cancer, options include:
- Genetic testing
- Long-term follow up for high-risk patients
- Chemoprevention medication
- Risk-reducing surgery
High-Risk Breast Disease Treatment
While we offer thorough, state-of-the-art cancer detection and treatment, we feel our primary focus must also include cancer prevention. Thus, our main goal is the identification of individuals who are at high risk for breast cancer.
A woman simply by being female is at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. However, lifestyle choices, precancerous breast lesions, family history and genetic mutations can also increase a woman risk for breast cancer.
Once a woman is identified as high-risk for breast cancer, our risk assessment programs tailor our evaluation, surveillance and treatment recommendations to her needs. We offer education in lifestyle modifications, genetic testing, and a thorough review of treatment options in a hopeful and patient-centric environment.
Benign Breast Disease Care Team
Our team includes breast surgeons, some of whom are fellowship-trained, as well as radiologists, nurses and technologists, who have extensive experience diagnosing and treating benign breast disease.
Schedule an appointment with our team by calling MGC Breast Care and Gynecologic Oncology at 864-560-1915.