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 can cause discomfort or pain and need treatment. 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.
Can benign breast conditions increase the risk of breast cancer?
Benign breast conditions are not breast cancer. However, some types (especially those with abnormal-looking cells, such as hyperplasia) increase the risk of breast cancer.
Learn more about hyperplasia and breast cancer risk.
What increases the risk of benign breast conditions?
A few factors can increase the 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 affect the risk of benign breast conditions in adulthood.
Some factors may increase risk. For example, drinking alcohol during the teen years may increase the risk of benign breast conditions [24-26].
Other factors may decrease risk. For example, eating foods that contain carotenoids (such as melons, carrots, sweet potatoes and squash), nuts (including peanut butter) and beans during the teen years may lower risk the 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 increases the risk of heart disease and many other health conditions in adulthood .
These topics are under study.
Types of benign breast conditions
If you’re diagnosed with a benign breast condition (or are told you have a fibrocystic change), your health care provider can tell you 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.