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Benign Breast Lumps: What You Need to Know

Female Patient Nurse MD1

From month to month and year to year, the tissue in your breast changes. Some of these changes could be breast lumps. Should you worry about lumps? Experts say 80 to 85 percent of breast lumps are non-cancerous, so don't freak out, BUT GET CHECKED OUT!

Found a Lump? Get Checked!

Mammary Gland

While in her 20s, patient Jaelynn Jenkins found a lump in her breast through self-exam. She says: "My immediate reaction? Disbelief, fear, and shock. At times, I felt that my body was betraying me." But Jenkins scheduled an appointment with her doctor and a biopsy (diagnostic test). It turned out her lump was non-cancerous or benign. She advises patients: "If you've found a lump get it checked out right away. Lingering lumps are extra anxiety that nobody needs."

Saundra Buys, MD, medical director of Huntsman Cancer Institute's High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic says: "Breast lumps are very common, especially in younger women. Normal breast tissue consists of fat and connective tissue as well as ducts and glands. All of these structures have some lumpy or nodular texture, so breast tissue is not perfectly smooth. This can make it difficult to identify a worrisome lump from a benign, non-worrisome lump or normal variation in breast texture."

Causes of Benign Breast Lumps

Some causes of breast lumps include these:

  • Fibroadenomas
  • Fibrocystic changes
  • Intraductal papillomas
  • Simple cysts or fluid filled sacks
  • Traumatic fat necrosis

Best Breast Health Tips

"In general," Buys advises "the two breasts should be fairly similar, so you should talk to your provider if you have a lump that is present on one side but not on the other. Although doing a formal breast self-examination has not been found to be helpful, it is useful to have a general idea of what your breasts feel like and report any changes from your normal pattern."

So the best thing you can do for healthy breasts is to be aware of what feels normal and what doesn't. Also, get an annual physical (or whatever your doctor recommends), and after age 40 get a mammogram or earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer. If you have questions about any changes in your breasts—you should see your doctor! After all, early prevention is the best medicine.