When Is a Breast Lump Benign?

Breast lumps are often benign. It is more common for a benign breast lump to be distinct in shape and to be sensitive. However, feeling a lump cannot tell you if it's benign or not. If you discover a new lump, consult your physician.

Breast lumps are frequent and can occur for a variety of causes. A breast lump is often benign, which means it's not cancerous. Breast lumps can result from a wide range of other illnesses, and benign lumps typically don't require medical attention.

However, without a comprehensive examination, determining whether a breast lump is benign or malignant is not always simple.

More information regarding benign breast lumps is included below, along with information on how to determine whether a lump is benign and how it may feel.

What does a benign breast lump feel like?

A self-examination alone may not always be sufficient to determine whether a breast lump is benign or malignant. Nonetheless, there are a few minor variations that could point to a benign breast tumour.

Depending on what caused it, a benign breast lump can feel very different to the touch. As an illustration, they might:
  • range in feel from soft to firm
  • feel rubbery
  • be movable
  • have a rounded or oval form with distinct boundaries.
  • feel a little uncomfortable or painful.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that lumps from breast cancer are more likely to feel hard and have uneven edges, without any pain. On the other hand, the ACS also mentions that it could feel spherical, soft, or painful.

This is why it's crucial to visit your doctor if you discover a new breast lump during a self-examination. To assist them decide if the mass on your body is benign or malignant, they can perform additional testing.

How can you tell if a breast lump is benign?

Without having your doctor perform additional testing, you cannot be certain that a breast lump is benign. Make an appointment to address any new breast lumps you discover during a breast self-examination with your physician.

Pain or discomfort are common side effects of benign breast diseases that result in breast lumps. On the other hand, breast cancer rarely results in pain.

Your doctor will go over your medical history with you when you visit them. They'll probably inquire about:
  • moment the bulge was initially observed by you
  • whether the tumour has undergone any discernible modifications, including size rises
  • if you experience any further symptoms, such as changes to the skin around your breasts or nipples or discharge from your nipples
  • if you have a family or personal history of breast cancer
  • the kinds of drugs you have been taking
After that, your doctor will examine your breasts, evaluating each one individually. Your breast lump will be noted for several characteristics, including:
  • size
  • location in your breast
  • mobility
  • consistency or texture
To evaluate your breast lump further, imaging tests will also be prescribed. These may consist of an ultrasound, a mammography, or both. If imaging indicates that your lump might be malignant, a breast biopsy can be performed to look for cancer in a sample of cells.

What causes a benign breast lump?

Benign breast lumps can have a variety of causes.

These include:
  • breast cysts are closed sacs that are frequently fluid-filled.
  • Your breasts may contain cysts and fibrous tissue in some places if you have fibrocystic breast alterations.
  • Fibroadenoma: a benign form of breast cancer
  • intraductal papilloma, in which the breast ducts produce wart-like growths
  • adenosis, a disorder that causes the breast lobules to grow and may result in lumps or lumpiness
  • fat necrosis is a lump that develops as a result of damage to the breast's fatty tissue
  • fat cell-based benign tumours called lipomas
  • Hemostasis, a collection of clots in the breast tissue, is frequently, though not always, the result of a recent operation or injury.
  • rare kind of breast tumours called benign phyllodes tumours, the majority of which are benign
Although breast lumps can occur in anyone with a benign breast ailment, certain people may be more susceptible to getting them. The particular ailment as well as several other factors influence the risk factors for various illnesses.

For instance, 61,617 Swedish women between the ages of 40 and 69 who underwent mammograms as part of a breast cancer screening programme were studied in a 2021 study. Among its conclusions were that:
  • Breast cancer in the family history increases the risk of benign breast problems in premenopausal women.
  • Compared to women who had three or more children, premenopausal women without children were more likely to develop cysts.
  • Women who used hormone replacement treatment after menopause were more likely to develop cysts and fibrocystic alterations.

Does a benign breast lump need to be removed?

Many breast lumps that turn out to be benign don't require medical attention right away. If these lumps require treatment, it could entail:
  • utilising a tiny, hollow needle to remove uncomfortable cysts
  • To lessen pain, try utilising heat or over-the-counter medicine.
  • putting on a supportive bra that fits nicely to reduce discomfort
Your doctor might still want to check in with you regularly to make sure the benign breast lump hasn't changed, even if it isn't removed.

A benign phyllodes tumour or fibroadenoma on the breast may occasionally be excised. When this might occur, for instance, if the lump
  • keeps growing
  • causes significant discomfort
  • impacts the way your breasts seem
Additionally, unusual cells may be discovered in your breast lump during a biopsy. Even if these cells aren't cancerous, they still don't seem normal in a microscope. In this case, your doctor would probably advise lumping removed.

Benign breast conditions and breast cancer risk

A higher risk of breast cancer has been associated with a few benign breast diseases. These are known as proliferative lesions and are distinguished by an overabundance of cell proliferation.

Atypia, in which cells appear aberrant under a microscope, may or may not be present in proliferative lesions. The risk of cancer is increased when atypia is present. Atypical lobular and atypical ductal hyperplasia are examples of these kinds of diseases.

The risk of breast cancer is hardly elevated in proliferative lesions in the absence of atypia. Among them are:
  • fibroadenoma
  • papillomatosis, a condition in which many papillomas are found
  • radial scar
  • sclerosing adenosis
  • usual ductal hyperplasia


The majority of breast lumps are benign, meaning they are not malignant. It is more common for benign breast tumours to be sensitive or uncomfortable. They can feel moveable and frequently have a distinct shape.

A benign breast lump can be caused by a variety of factors. Breast cysts, fibrocystic alterations, and fibroadenoma are a few common ones.

One cannot determine the cancerousness of a breast mass solely by feeling it. See your doctor right away if you discover a new breast lump during a breast self-examination so they can examine it.

Several tests can be used to assist in identifying if a breast lump is benign or not. These consist of imaging studies and, if required, a biopsy sample analysis.

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