Benign Breast Conditions
What are benign breast conditions?
Benign breast conditions (also called benign breast diseases) are noncancerous disorders of the breast. They can occur in both women and men.
There are many types of benign breast conditions. Your health care provider may use the term fibrocystic change to describe a range of benign breast conditions.
This section discusses benign breast conditions in women.
Learn about benign breast conditions in men.
When is treatment or follow-up needed?
Some benign breast conditions cause discomfort or pain and need treatment. Some may need to be removed. Others don’t 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.
If you need a biopsy, try not to panic or worry. In the U.S., most biopsy results don’t show cancer . Still, a biopsy is needed to know whether or not something is cancer.
Are benign breast conditions linked to an increased risk of breast cancer?
Benign breast conditions are not breast cancer. However, some types (especially those with abnormal-looking cells, such as hyperplasia) are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
For example, women who have usual hyperplasia and those who have atypical hyperplasia have an increased risk of breast cancer [38-40,170]. Women with atypical hyperplasia have more of an increased risk than those with usual hyperplasia [38-40,170].
Learn more about hyperplasia and breast cancer risk.
What increases the risk of benign breast conditions?
A few factors are linked to an increased risk of benign breast conditions, including [21-23]:
- Menopausal hormone therapy (postmenopausal hormone use)
- A family history of breast cancer or benign breast conditions
Lifestyle factors during childhood and the teen years
Some lifestyle factors during childhood and the teen years may be linked to the risk of benign breast conditions in adulthood.
Some factors may be linked to an increased risk. For example, women who drink alcohol during the teen years may have an increased risk of benign breast conditions [24-26].
Other factors may be linked to a decreased risk. For example, women who eat nuts (including peanut butter), beans and foods that contain carotenoids (such as melons, carrots and sweet potatoes) during the teen years may have a decreased risk of benign breast conditions [27-29].
Also, girls who are heavy at age 10 may have a lower risk of benign breast conditions in young adulthood than girls who are lean at age 10 [28,30]. (Similarly, women who were heavy as children and teens may have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who were lean in their youth [31-36].)
However, being heavy during childhood and the teen years is not advised as it’s linked to an increased risk of heart disease and many other health conditions in adulthood .
These topics are under study.
Types of benign breast conditions
If you are told you have a benign breast condition (or a fibrocystic change), ask your health care provider which type you have, if it needs treatment and if it increases your risk of breast cancer.
Some benign breast conditions are described below. (There are many types of benign breast conditions. This is not an exhaustive list.)
Learn more about detecting benign breast conditions.
Learn more about diagnosing benign breast conditions.