What is a benign breast condition?

A benign breast condition is an abnormality in the breast that is not cancerous. Although some conditions can cause some pain and may require treatment, these abnormalities are harmless. Both women and men can develop benign breast conditions.

What are some of the common benign breast conditions?

Cysts: A cyst is a fluid-filled sac in the breast. They are quite common in young, premenopausal women. A cyst does not usually require any treatment but it can be drained if it becomes big and sore. It is unusual to see cysts in women after menopause unless they are taking hormones.

Fibroadenomas: These are hard, round lumps in the breast made up of fibrous tissue and gland cells. They may be too small to feel but if they are large enough and close enough to the surface they may feel like a small marble that moves around easily. They are usually painless. They are most common in women in their 20s and 30s. They often stay the same size or disappear on their own over time, but if they get bigger then it is usually recommended that they be removed.

Intraductal papilloma: This is a wart-like growth in a milk duct of the breast. It is often found close to the nipple and may cause bloody nipple discharge. It may also cause pain and a lump.

What should I do if I notice a change in my breast?

If you do notice a change in your breast, you should go see a doctor to have it checked out. If you don’t have a family doctor, you can go to a walk-in clinic to consult a doctor.  You can also call the free Telehealth/Telemedicine helpline in your province to speak with a nurse about your concern.

Links to more information

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Benign Breast Conditions
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Benign Breast Conditions
Breast Cancer Care UK

Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women
National Cancer Institute
Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions

American Cancer Society

Breast Health (Non-Cancerous Breast Issues)