Benign breast disease makes you more prone to getting breast lumps. Finding a lump can be scary, but these breast changes are benign (not cancer). Certain types of breast disease increase your risk of breast cancer. You should notify your healthcare provider about any breast lumps or changes. Most noncancerous lumps go away without treatment.
If you feel a lump in your breast, your first thought may be that you have breast cancer. Fortunately, a majority of breast lumps are benign, meaning they’re not cancerous.
Both women and men can develop benign (noncancerous) breast lumps. This condition is known as benign breast disease. While these breast changes aren’t cancerous or life-threatening, they may increase your risk of developing breast cancer later on.
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Benign breast lumps in women are common. Up to half of all women will experience fibrocystic changes that cause noncancerous breast lumps at some point in their lives. Fluctuating hormone levels often cause these breast tissue changes.
Benign breast disease affects all genders. Men can develop enlarged, swollen breasts with lumps, a condition called gynecomastia. Your risk for benign breast disease increases if you:
There are many different types of benign breast disease. Most of the following types don’t increase cancer risk and don’t require treatment:
Common causes of noncancerous breast lumps include:
You may notice breast changes or a lump while doing a breast-self exam, showering or getting dressed. Sometimes a mammogram detects these changes. Besides a breast lump, other signs of benign breast disease include:
If you feel a lump or notice breast changes, see your healthcare provider immediately. Sometimes a mammogram or your healthcare provider first detects a change. Your provider may order one or more of these tests:
Most types of benign breast disease don’t require treatment. Your healthcare provider may recommend treatment if you have atypical hyperplasia or a different kind of benign breast disease that increases your future risk of breast cancer. If you experience pain or discomfort or have an increased cancer risk, these treatments can help:
Benign breast lumps are fairly common and can occur many times throughout your life. Your breasts may feel lumpy or tender when hormone levels change due to menstruation or menopause. You should contact your healthcare provider anytime you feel a lump or notice a breast change.
Certain types of benign breast disease, such as atypical hyperplasia, make you more prone to breast cancer. Sometimes, benign breast lumps hurt. Your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to remove painful lumps. Unfortunately, some fibroadenoma lumps come back after surgery.
Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can cause breast lumps, tenderness and nipple discharge. You’re also more likely to experience benign breast changes or develop a breast infection called mastitis while breastfeeding. Breast changes during pregnancy or breastfeeding are rarely cancerous. Still, you should reach out to your healthcare provider when you notice any breast change.
There isn’t much you can do to lower your risk of benign breast disease. These actions may lower cancer risk and help detect disease early when it’s most treatable:
The majority of women with benign breast disease don’t develop breast cancer. If you have a disease type that increases cancer risk, your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent cancer screenings. Certain breast diseases can make you more prone to developing lumps. You should notify your healthcare provider anytime you notice changes in how your breasts look or feel.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
If you have benign breast disease, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It’s hard not to panic when you discover a breast lump. Fortunately, most lumps aren’t cancerous. Your healthcare provider can order the appropriate tests to determine what’s causing benign breast disease. Most people don’t need treatment — lumps go away on their own. If you have a benign condition that increases your chances of developing breast cancer later on, talk to your provider about preventive measures and screenings.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/22/2020.
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