BENIGN, NOT CANCEROUS
Most women experience breast problems or changes at some point in their life and the first thought that crosses their mind is… Is it BREAST CANCER??
Fortunately, majority of breast issues are benign, which means they are NON-CANCEROUS. Known as Benign Breast Conditions, such conditions are unusual growth or changes in the breast tissue that are not cancer. Problems such as breast lumps, breast pain or tenderness, nipple discharge, or changes in the skin of the breast, are very common in women of all ages. Some of these may imitate cancerous symptoms, but none are life-threatening.
CAUSES OF BENIGN BREAST CONDITIONS
A number of factors contribute to these breast abnormalities such as the structure of your breasts (fatty tissue vs. dense or thick tissue), your age, and fluctuating hormone levels. Additionally, birth control pills, menopause, pregnancy, overweight issues, hormone therapy, a family history of breast cancer or benign breast diseases, infection, and breastfeeding can also give rise to these problems.
DIAGNOSIS OF BENIGN BREAST CONDITIONS
Establishing whether a condition is benign or not involves breast screening and other procedures that are also used to detect cancer. Inquiry about your and your family’s medical history, full and thorough physical examination, imaging tests and other diagnostic tests like nipple discharge analysis or biopsy are taken into consideration.
COMMON BENIGN BREAST CONDITIONS
There are many types of benign breast conditions. Some of these conditions cause symptoms while others may be diagnosed on a routine checkup. Following are the most common ones –
Cysts are round or oval fluid-filled sacs that may be tender when you touch them. They are most often found in women in their 40s, but they can occur in women of any age. More than one cyst may grow at the same time and hormone changes often cause these cysts to get bigger, become painful and sometimes more noticeable just before the menses. This condition often goes away without any treatment.
The most common non-cancerous solid breast tumours found in women ages 15 to 35, Fibroadenomas are composed of both fibrous and gland tissues. These are often small, round, and usually feel firm and rubbery and have a smooth texture. They may grow, shrink, and disappear on their own and have no additional symptoms. No treatment is required for this benign condition.
FIBROCYSTIC BREAST CHANGES
Fibrocystic breast changes happen when women develop fibrous, rubber-like, thick tissue or fluid-filled cysts along with areas of fibrosis in one or both breasts. Due to fluctuating hormone levels, breasts may feel lumpy, dense and tender, especially right before menstruation. Women ages 30 to 50 are more likely to experience fibrocystic breast changes which generally disappears without any treatment.
These are benign, wart-like tumors that grow inside the milk ducts. They are made up of gland tissue along with fibrous tissue and blood vessels (called fibrovascular tissue), are usually less than 1 centimeter but can grow up to 5 or 6 centimeters. They typically occur in women between the ages of 30 and 50, and the usual treatment is surgery to remove the papilloma and the part of the duct it’s in.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast caused by an infection that maybe painful. It usually occurs in women who are breastfeeding, when a milk duct becomes clogged or not fully draining the milk from the breast. Infection can also come from the broken skin on the nipple. The treatment will usually involve an antibiotics course.
NOTE: The pain and tenderness of a benign breast condition can be uncomfortable. Do consult your doctor!!