Veteran's Health Library Menu

Health Encyclopedia

What Are Benign Breast Conditions?

Most breast conditions are benign (noncancerous), causing no serious harm to you. But all women are at some risk for breast cancer. This risk increases as they become older. If you notice any breast changes that aren’t normal for you, see your healthcare provider immediately. This helps to ensure proper treatment if there is a problem.

Breast infection

Infections of the breast tissue can cause skin redness, warmth, pain, and/or tenderness. The most common infection is mastitis. This inflammation of the breast tissue may occur during breastfeeding. Mastitis and other breast infections are often treated with antibiotics. Inflammatory breast cancer can have similar symptoms. It is important that you see your healthcare provider in order to rule this out. 

Nipple discharge

Many women can squeeze a tiny amount of a clear or milky discharge from one or both nipples. This discharge may be normal. Other kinds of discharge may be symptoms of a breast condition. A dark discharge can be caused by an intraductal papilloma. This is a benign growth in a duct near the nipple. Any nipple discharge that is dark or bloody, or that happens without squeezing your nipple, should be checked by your healthcare provider.

Fibrocystic changes

Side view of cross section of breast showing multiple cysts throughout breast tissue.

Sometimes solid or fluid-filled lumps (cysts) may form within the breast. Cysts may be smooth, soft, firm, and/or tender. These benign changes may cause thickening or lumps in the breasts. They may also feel more dense in some areas than in others, most commonly the upper and outer aspects of the breast. They may become larger and more tender right before your menstrual cycle, which is most often related to hormonal changes. 

Benign breast lumps

Side view of cross section of breast showing fibroadenoma in breast tissue.

Benign breast lumps come in all shapes, textures, and sizes. A fibroadenoma (a lump of fibrous tissue) may be smooth, firm, and rubbery. This type of lump is usually painless and mobile. If you notice any breast lumps that are not normal for you, please see your healthcare provider immediately. 

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 6/1/2017
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
Disclaimer - Opens 'Disclaimer' in Dialog Window | Help | About Veterans Health Library