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Benign Breast Conditions

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Benign breast conditions are common breast changes that are not cancerous. They are not life threatening but some may put you at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia (ADH)

This condition is not breast cancer. Rather, cells appear abnormal, indicating a potential risk for developing breast cancer. Usually, there are no symptoms and it is often diagnosed as a result of a breast biopsy done for another reason, such as an abnormal mammogram.

BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation

Women who test positive for a mutation of one of these genes have an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Testing positive for one of these mutated genes does not mean you have breast cancer but should trigger proactive steps you can take to limit the risk of developing the disease.

Breast pain (mastodynia, mastalgia)

Breast pain can range from mild to severe. It can occur occasionally or monthly before your period, or last through your menstrual cycle. Postmenopausal women can have breast pain but it is more common in younger, premenopausal and perimenopausal women. Usually, breast pain is noncancerous, but a woman experiencing pain associated with a lump in her breast should see a medical professional for an evaluation.


These fluid-filled, round or oval lumps in the breast are non-cancerous. An ultrasound or fine needle aspiration is needed to confirm the diagnosis. The aspiration will drain the fluid from the cyst.


These noncancerous tumors are made of fibrous and glandular tissue and are most common in younger women, but may be found at any age. They are usually round and often feel like a marble. They are firm, non-tender and can be moved under the skin. Fibroadenomas should be removed if they grow rapidly or too big.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

This is not breast cancer but rather an uncommon condition in which abnormal cells form in the lobules or milk glands. It does indicate a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer in either breast. Typically, it doesn't show up on mammograms and is often discovered through a biopsy done for another reason, such as an abnormal mammogram.


Mastitis is a non-cancerous breast infection that causes breast pain, swelling, redness and warmth with or without flu-like symptoms. It typically occurs in breast-feeding women when milk ducts get blocked or bacteria enter the milk ducts through the nipple. In some cases, a breast abscess may form and can be treated by draining the fluid.

Nipple Discharge

Most nipple discharge is caused by non-cancerous conditions. It may be triggered by breast manipulation, birth control pills, some medications, a benign lesion known as intraductal papilloma, or other conditions. The color may be clear, white, green, brown or bloody. But it may also be caused by cancer. Report it to your health care provider when it happens and if it occurred on one or both sides, as well as the amount and color of the discharge.


Papillomas are usually benign tumors that grow in the milk duct. They are a common cause of nipple discharge. Surgical removal is advised to assure the tumors are benign. If benign, they do not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Phyllodes Tumors

These tumors are usually benign but in rare cases may be cancerous. Standard care calls for surgically removing phyllodes tumors but they have an increased risk of growing back.

Radial Scar

This is a benign lesion but it is often difficult to distinguish from breast cancer on imaging. Surgical removal is recommended.