It’s understandable that if you find a lump in your breast, you might automatically think of cancer. While it’s important to see your GP if you notice something unusual, breast lumps are very common and are usually benign (not cancerous). In fact, about nine out of 10 lumps that women can feel themselves in their breasts turn out to be benign. Breast lumps could be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).
There are many different types of benign breast lump. These include the following.
- These are the most common type of benign and painless breast lump in the age range of 16-30.
- These are sacs of fluid that build up in your breast tissue. You can have one or more cysts and they vary in size. You’re most likely to get them between the ages of 35 and 50 and are benign.
- Phyllodes tumour. This is a type of breast lump that can be either benign or malignant (cancerous). You’re most likely to get this if you’re aged between 40 and 50. Because of the risk that they may be cancerous, these are usually removed.
- Atypical hyperplasia. This is an over-production of cells in the ducts or the lobes of the breasts. Although it’s a benign breast lump, it’s also pre-malignant, which means it can change into breast cancer in time.
- Fat necrosis. These are firm lumps that can form on your breast. They usually develop when scar tissue forms after an injury to your breast.
- Sclerosing adenosis. This is usually a small, painful and firm lump. This type of lump is sometimes found on a mammogram during breast screening.
- Breast infection (mastitis or an abscess). This can sometimes develop if you’re breastfeeding and may be painful and cause breast lumps and swelling.
- Duct ectasia can develop around the time of the menopause. This is when the ducts under your nipples get blocked. This can cause your nipple to turn inwards and a lump to develop under it. Some women have a blood-stained discharge from their nipple too.