Benign Breast Conditions

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Complete, Compassionate Care for Benign Breast Diseases

If you notice a lump or other change in your breast during a self-exam, or if a questionable area appears during your regular mammogram, you might assume that means you have breast cancer. But 80% or more of breast lumps and changes are actually benign (noncancerous).

The breast care experts at Baystate Health can determine whether a breast lump or change is cancerous or not through careful screening and diagnosis, including breast biopsy. We also care for women who have already received a diagnosis from another provider.

Benign Breast Diseases We Treat

We diagnose and treat the full range of benign breast diseases, including:

  • Atypical ductal hyperplasia: a buildup of abnormal cells in the main milk duct (the tube that carries milk to the nipple)
  • Benign breast lumps: these include fibroadenomas (breast lumps made of fibrous and/or glandular tissue) and hamartomas (breast lumps that include fat, fibrous, and glandular tissue)
  • Complex breast cysts: sacs in the breast filled with something besides clear fluid
  • Fibroepithelial lesions: benign breast tumors, including fibroadenomas and phyllodes tumors (which start in the breast tissue that surrounds the ducts and lobules)
  • Flat epithelial atypia: abnormal cells within the breast’s terminal duct lobular unit, where the glands that produce milk (lobules) join with small tubes that carry milk to the main tube that takes milk to the nipple
  • Intraductal papilloma: a benign breast tumor, similar to a wart and not related to the HPV virus, that grows within the breast’s milk ducts
  • Radial scars or complex sclerosing lesions: growths that look like scars under a microscope and that involve hardened, abnormal breast tissue

Treatments We Offer for Benign Breast Diseases

Once we’ve identified your specific breast condition, you and your doctor will work together to create a personalized treatment plan based on your unique needs. In some cases, your plan may simply involve careful observation of your condition to make sure it doesn’t get any worse.

If you have a breast cyst, your doctor may use a technique called aspiration during a biopsy procedure. Aspiration involves draining fluid from the cyst with a needle, which usually causes it to collapse and disappear.

Your doctor may recommend breast surgery to remove the area of abnormal tissue from your breast. Most benign breast diseases respond well to breast-conserving surgery, in which we remove only the breast lump or other abnormal tissue. If it’s not possible to feel the affected area, your treatment may include a localization procedure, in which your surgeon uses either a thin wire or a radioactive particle (seed) into the abnormal tissue with image guidance. These procedures help your surgeon locate the abnormal tissue and remove it during surgery.

In some cases, women whose benign breast conditions put them at a much higher risk for breast cancer choose to have a mastectomy (breast removal) to prevent the cancer from developing. You and your doctor will discuss all your treatment options to determine what’s best for you.

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