Benign and Malignant Breast Disorders

While there are many breast disorders, most are benign (non-cancerous). Treatment options may vary depending on the type of breast disorder that you have. In some instances, a growth or lump may require surgery. However, many breast disorders do not require treatment or surgery. One of the best ways to stay ahead of breast disorders is to have an annual mammogram and an examination by your physician.

Common Breast Disorders Include:

  • Breast pain and tenderness: The most common type of breast pain occurs during a woman’s menstrual cycle when the breast tissue becomes swollen. Other causes of breast pain include injury, infection or cysts. If you feel you have a suspicious lump or mass on your breast, it’s important to get it looked at by a physician. Your doctor will determine whether it needs further testing.
  • Gynecomastia: Gynecomastia is an enlargement of breast tissue seen in male patients. Often, it is caused by high levels of estrogen, or testosterone and estrogen levels that are unbalanced.
  • Cysts: A cyst, which can feel soft or hard to the touch, is a fluid-filled sac that develops in the breast tissue. Most cysts are benign (non-cancerous) but a cyst aspiration can be completed to relieve tenderness or to rule out cancer.
  • Fibroadenomas: Fibroadenomas are benign, painless lumps. They may vary in size and can be found anywhere in the breast tissue.
  • Fat necrosis: Fat necrosis occurs when painless lumps form in the breast tissue. Fat necrosis is caused by damaged to the fatty tissues and may occur after a lumpectomy and/or radiation from a previous cancerous lump. Fat necrosis can also be caused by trauma to the breast tissue. These lumps are benign and do not increase your risk of cancer. Your doctor may want to perform a mammogram before deciding whether to remove it.
  • Sclerosing adenosis: This breast condition involves an excessive amount of tissue growing in the breast and pain may occur as a result.
  • Generalized breast lumpiness: It is believed that most breast lumpiness is caused by normal breast changes in women. If you have lumpy breasts, it’s important to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor and perform regular breast self-examinations, as well as getting regular mammograms.
  • Uneven breast size: While this is common, especially during the early phases of breast development, your doctor can perform an examination for any mass, abscess or cyst in the breast.
  • Hard lump: If you detect a lump that is hard, unmovable, attached to your chest wall or if you are experiencing dimpling or puckering of the breast, it is important to consult your doctor for further examination.

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