Breast palpation is part of the standard checkup at every gynecologist visit. You should also check your breast regularly for lumps at home. Most are benign breast tumors and are not symptoms of cancer, but this should always be clarified by a doctor.
What are benign breast tumors?
Benign breast tumors, also known as benign breast tumors, are changes in the breast that are not pathological. A benign tumor does not mean breast cancer. There are different types of these benign changes:
An overgrowth of connective and glandular tissue is called a fibroadenoma. It can be felt as a clearly defined nodule.
According to abbreviationfinder.org, a lipoma is an overgrowth of adipose tissue cells and is usually very small. The phylloid tumor is similar to the fibroadenoma. It also grows from the connective tissue, but can very quickly become very large and even malignant. However, this type of benign breast tumor is rather rare.
Another rare tumor is the intraductal or milk duct papilloma. The growth arises from the tissue lining the mammary ducts. The cauliflower-like, small tumor is usually located just below the nipple.
Slow-growing and small growths of glandular tissue are called adenomas. They are also rather rare.
Most benign breast tumors are harmless. Where they come from has not yet been fully established. One reason could be hormonal influences. Factors such as taking the birth control pill, pregnancy and breastfeeding seem to reduce the risk of developing a tumour.
Breast tissue is very sensitive to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels during the menstrual cycle. Furthermore, benign breast tumors mainly occur in young women.
Infection can also cause breast lumps. Inflammation of the breast tissue is called mastitis. It is particularly common in women who are breastfeeding. If the skin of the nipple is injured while breastfeeding, bacteria can easily enter there and cause an infection.
Women who wear nipple piercings are particularly at risk for infection. Other causes of benign breast tumors can be regular changes in breast tissue, injuries or medication.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Benign breast tumors belong to different types of tumors and therefore cause different symptoms. Often there are no complaints at all. However, the symptoms that may appear depend on the type of tumor. Benign breast tumors include fibroadenomas, adenomas, lipomas, phylloid tumors and intraductal papilloma.
Young women are usually affected. Fibroadenomas are the most common benign breast tumors. These usually do not cause any symptoms. They are usually palpated as hard lumps during breast self-examination. Only in very slim women can the lumps be discovered by sighting as a swelling if they are located directly under the skin.
Complaints only occur in rare cases during pregnancy because inflammation can occur. In contrast to fibroadenomas, lipomas feel soft. But lipomas do not cause any symptoms either. Phylloid tumors are easy to feel because they grow very quickly and can reach a considerable size. Because the tumor grows against the skin of the breast, it often bulges out.
Sometimes it grows through the skin and looks cauliflower-like. The intraductal papilloma is difficult to feel due to its softness. However, it becomes noticeable through a milky discharge from the nipple. Nipple adenomas can also cause bloody discharge. Malignant degeneration is very rare in benign breast tumors.
Diagnosis & History
Benign breast tumors often show no symptoms up to a certain size. With milk duct papilloma, a bloody or milky discharge can occur from the nipple.
However, the knot is usually only discovered when it is large enough to be felt. An important diagnostic tool is therefore self-examination, i.e. feeling your own breasts. It is also important to pay attention to the peculiarities of the knot, for example whether it changes during the menstrual cycle.
If a lump is discovered, the gynecologist should be consulted. He scans the breast carefully and, if necessary, orders an ultrasound examination (sonography) or a mammography.
To determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant, a small sample of tissue is taken (biopsy) and examined. The benign breast tumors usually grow slowly, do not destroy surrounding tissue and do not form metastases. That is why most of the time the forecasts are positive and the course is favourable.
Breast palpation is a standard check at every gynecologist visit. You should also regularly check your breasts for lumps at home. Most of the time, these are benign breast tumors and are not symptoms of cancer, but this should always be clarified by a doctor.
A breast lump always means that an ulcer is growing, which needs to be taken care of. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a woman’s or a man’s breast. Breast lumps occur in both sexes and require professional evaluation at all times.
Without treatment, they can continue to grow unhindered and cause great damage. And growth is not the only problem. Even if the hardening is harmless, it can turn into a malignant tumor if left untreated. Only a doctor can determine what type of tumor it is.
Complications from treated breast lumps occur when wound care is not performed aseptically. Inflammation occurs at the site of the operation or the scar does not close. If a malignant tumor has been diagnosed, complications from chemotherapy can occur.
If the person concerned has waited too long and diseased cells have been able to get into the lymphatic system, what is known as elephantiasis occurs. The arm becomes unnaturally thick and only very rarely does the swelling recede, even with special treatments.
When should you go to the doctor?
A doctor should always be consulted if a lump forms in the breast tissue. Both men and women should see a doctor immediately if they notice any hardening or other changes in the breast tissue. If swelling, ulcers, skin changes or discolouration occur, a doctor must be consulted.
If pain occurs or if bruises can be noticed repeatedly on the chest without external influences, a doctor must be consulted. A doctor is needed if there is a tightening sensation in the chest during movement sequences or if symptoms occur when performing general activities. If the breasts are growing abnormally, if you notice a feeling of tenderness in the breasts or if there are changes in the sensations on the skin, a doctor should be consulted.
In the case of numbness or sensitivity disorders of the chest, caution is advised and a doctor should be consulted. If changes or irregularities occur in patients with diagnosed benign tumors, a doctor must be consulted immediately.
In some cases, benign tumors can turn into a malignant disease. Therefore, another control visit is necessary as soon as possible. If fluid is lost through the nipple, this is considered unusual and should be investigated. If you are feeling restless, have psychological problems or are experiencing behavioral problems, you should also see a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
The specific treatment depends on what type of benign breast tumor you have. Inflammation of breast tissue in a woman who is breastfeeding can be treated with antibiotics and warm compresses. If an abscess has formed, it often first has to be drained by the art.
In isolated cases, milk duct papillomas can develop into malignant tumors. Therefore, they must be checked regularly and, if necessary, surgically removed.
Most benign breast tumors are surgically removed. If the patient is not particularly suffering, it is often sufficient to observe very small, slowly growing growths and to check them regularly. Only rarely do benign breast tumors develop into malignant tumors. They usually do not increase the risk of breast cancer.
In the case of the rare phylloid tumor, it is important that the tumor is completely removed, otherwise it can form again after the operation. In most cases, the entire breast does not have to be removed.
Outlook & Forecast
Benign breast tumors generally have a very favorable prognosis. An important reason for this is the slow growth of the affected cells. Unlike malignant tumors, the surrounding tissue is not destroyed and no metastases form.
The probability of degeneration, i.e. the change to a malignant tumor, is very low in the case of benign breast tumors. Since the probability increases somewhat with age, surgical removal is performed more frequently in older patients overall.
For some small and isolated tumors such as fibroadenomas, regular check-ups by the gynecologist are sufficient. A negative trend is not to be expected.
As a rule, however, surgical removal is also sought in the case of benign breast tumors. These tumors often go unnoticed for a long time. Nevertheless, they grow and can gradually displace healthy tissue and cause immense damage.
The benign phylloid tumor often forms again after surgery. Therefore, this tumor in particular must be completely removed. A breast removal is usually not necessary for benign breast tumors. The prognosis for full recovery after breast tumor removal is very good.
So far, no special measures are known to reduce the risk of benign breast tumors. The most important thing is to treat it as early as possible. Regular self-examination and regular check-ups at the gynecologist are essential for this. Any newly discovered lump should be evaluated by a gynecologist, and known benign breast tumors that have not been removed should be checked regularly.
In the case of benign breast tumors, various follow-up measures are usually necessary. Usually, the tumor or tumors are surgically removed. The surgical scars in this area usually heal well. Therefore, only a few postoperative check-ups are necessary. However, intensive follow-up care is necessary if complications such as inflammation occur.
After the benign breast tumor has been successfully removed, the main aim of the follow-up examinations is to notice any recurrence of tumors in good time. Certain forms of tumors strongly stimulate the growth of the surrounding tissue. This leads to the formation of new ulcers. This also increases the risk of malignant tumors in some cases.
The control intervals after the removal of benign breast tumors are determined in consultation with the specialist. Within the first five years, the breast should be examined by a doctor several times a year. Mammography and sonography should be performed at least once a year.
In addition, those affected should feel the breast themselves to detect any changes in the tissue. If there are hardening, skin changes or other abnormalities in the breast area, a specialist should be consulted, regardless of the planned examination intervals. This is also advisable if tumors form in other parts of the body, such as under the armpits.
You can do that yourself
Benign breast tumors usually do not require any therapeutic treatment, so that self-help is not usually necessary for those affected in everyday life. The growth of benign tumors such as fibroadenomas cannot be influenced anyway.
Sometimes it is possible that a fibroadenoma, for example, can cause pressure due to its location or size, or that symptoms such as breast pain before the period can be aggravated as part of PMS and other menstrual cycle disorders. In these cases, cooling poultices with quark are a tried and tested home remedy that has no side effects at all. In addition, as with other breast complaints (e.g. mastopathy too), it is advisable not to constantly touch the breast or any benign breast tumor that may be felt.
There are cases when a woman also copes poorly psychologically with the fact that she has a benign breast tumor. After a confirmed diagnosis by the specialist, for example through imaging procedures or a biopsy, it is important that the woman does not develop excessive fears of the benign tumor.
Targeted information about the harmlessness of the finding and consistent compliance with conventional preventive examinations as part of cancer prevention help here. If the benign tumor remains inconspicuous, the woman can deal with the diagnosis in an increasingly relaxed and relaxed manner in everyday life.