Benign breast disorders  are noncancerous disorders of the breast. The term fibrocystic change may be used to describe a range of benign breast disorders. They include hyperplasia, cyst, fibroadenoma, breast pain, nipple discharge, breast infection, intraductal papilloma and others

Some benign breast disorders can cause discomfort or pain and need treatment. Many benign breast conditions mimic the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. These conditions will need follow-up tests and sometimes a biopsy for diagnosis

Breast pain alone is rarely a symptom of breast cancer. Only about 3 out of 100 women presenting with pain as their main problem are diagnosed with breast cancer. However, any breast pain that is new, recurrent or persistent, or associated with a lump, skin or nipple changes should always be evaluated

Fibroadenomas are not cancerous and do not significantly increase the risk of developing breast cancer

If you find a lump or suspicious area in your breast, consult a breast specialist. Your health care provider will perform a clinical breast examination. Based on the results of this exam, more tests may be recommended

Phyllodes tumors are fast growing breast lumps that begin in the connective tissue of the breast. They are usually painless. Most phyllodes tumors are benign, but about 25 percent are cancerous. They have to be removed surgically

All women are at risk for breast cancer. Risk factors that may increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer include:

  • Increasing age
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Presence of certain inherited genetic changes
  • Previous breast biopsy showing benign(non-cancerous) conditions
  • Early menstruation
  • Late menopause
  • A first pregnancy after age 30 or no prior pregnancies
  • Alcohol use
  • Obesity after menopause

However, 80% of women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends a few diet and lifestyle guidelines-


  • Maintain a maximum body mass index of 25
  • Be physically active and exercise 30 to 60 minutes daily
  • Do not smoke
  • Limit alcoholic drinks to one drink a day
  • Dietary changes – Eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Reduce consumption of red meat, processed food, refined sugar, fatty food
  • Perform monthly breast self examination (BSE) starting from age 20
  • Have clinical breast exams (CBE) by a breast specialist once every three years starting from age 20
  • Begin annual clinical breast exams at age 40
  • Begin annual screening mammograms at age 40

1) In the Shower

With the flats of your 3 middle fingers, check the breast and armpit area pressing down with light, medium, and firm pressure. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side – from your collarbone to the top of the abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage. Feel for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any other breast changes.

2) In Front of a Mirror 

Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles.

3) Lying Down

Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move your fingers around your right breast gently covering the entire breast area and armpit. Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast

All women over 40 years of age should have a mammogram each year

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends the following early detection screenings for women at average risk for breast cancer:

  • Optional mammograms beginning at age 40
  • Annual mammograms for women ages 45 to 54
  • Mammograms every two years for women 55 and older, unless they choose to stick with yearly screenings
  • MRIs and mammograms for some women at high risk of breast cancer

Exercise boosts the immune system and helps keep body weight in check. With as little as three hours of exercise per week, or about 30 minutes a day, a woman can begin to lower her risk of breast cancer. This doesn’t  necessarily mean going to a gym, just routine power walking is more than sufficient!

Although women who have a family history of breast cancer are at a higher risk, most women who have breast cancer have no significant family history. Only 5-10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history

The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women

The most common signs are:

  • A change in the look or feel of the breast or nipple
  • Nipple discharge

If you have any of the warning signs described below, consult a breast specialist

  • A lump in the breast
  • A thickening, swelling, distortion or tenderness in the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling in the breast
  • Recent nipple retraction
  • Nipple discharge





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