What is a Benign Breast Tumor?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2019
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A benign breast tumor is an area of abnormal cell growth in the breast which is not considered to be cancerous. A very high percentage of breast lumps turn out to be benign, meaning that they should cause few or no health problems to the owner of the breast, but all breast lumps should be examined by a doctor to check for malignancies. Monthly breast self exams are strongly recommended for all women, so that changes in the breast tissue can be detected as early as possible. Mammograms for cancer screening purposes are also recommended for older women.

Tumors are caused by a genetic defect in a cell which causes it to multiply uncontrollably, leading to the formation of a lump of tissue. In some cases, tumors are benign, with little risk of spreading to neighboring organs, and some check on their growth. Benign tumors can still cause health problems, depending on their location, and they may also be viewed as cosmetic defects. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, have the potential to metastasize, and they grow very rapidly and aggressively.


There are several different forms of benign breast tumors, including phyllodes tumors, granular cell tumors, papillomas, and fibroadenomas. All of these benign growths can cause lumps in the breast or around the milk duct. Classically, a benign breast tumor has smooth edges when it is palpated, and it can be moved around in the breast tissue. Some women also experience fibrocystic changes, lumps in their breasts which wax and wane with the menstrual cycle.

Many breasts naturally have a few lumps, and sometimes it can be difficult to discern the precise nature of a lump. In these cases, a doctor may request a breast biopsy. Breast biopsies are used to collect a small sample of the suspected tumor, so that it can be examined under a microscope by a pathologist. The pathologist can determine whether the lump is benign or malignant, and a treatment plan can be developed accordingly.

Although a benign breast tumor is not cancerous, it can cause pain, irritation, or discomfort. Some women choose to have benign tumors removed in a lumpectomy procedure. Some lumps may also indicate an increased risk of developing breast cancer, in which case routine follow-up exams may be recommended to monitor the breast closely for any changes. A doctor can discuss a benign breast tumor and its implications with patients on an individual basis.


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Post 8

I just got a call from my first mammogram and they want a follow up, and ultrasound. I was told they found a benign spot on my right breast. I'm so nervous, I'm 34 years old and a mother of two. When I had to have the first one, I told my husband what ever the turn out, we would take it one step at a time. But, now my nerves are showing! I don't want to feel like I'm not confident, but I want to be prepared and ready for anything.

Post 7

The doctor called me back after a mammogram came back suspicious. I just finished tests that included a 3D imaging and an ultrasound. They found a large mass in my right breast. The lady doing the exam said their was a little fluid around it but it seemed solid.

I am not sure the doc agreed with her because I did not get much info from him. Guess it wasn't great because now they have be scheduled for a core biopsy. About a month ago I had what they thought was a cyst removed from my underarm. Does anyone think these could be related? Nervous and hate this waiting!

Post 6

@Planch: Yes, you can get an ultrasound of the breast tissue instead of a mammogram (I think that's the "breast cancer MRI"). If the patient is still a minor, the doctor will definitely do an ultrasound instead of a mammogram because an ultrasound has much less radiation. No, the ultrasound does not replace breast biopsy. An ultrasound just tells the size and location of the lump.

A breast biopsy will tell if the cells are benign or malignant. Typically, a breast biopsy is done if the lump can potentially be malignant, but you could probably request it to be done if it concerns you. I hope that helps!

Post 5

the needle biopsy is one of the procedures that can be detect the breast tumor if malignant or not? my mother had surgery on her right breast and removed. the result of the needle biopsy is malignant after removal she had to undergo a biopsy examination and the result was benign tumor. the doctor's advice was to have chemotherapy three times but she stopped because she felt sick. Is it possible to have an infection on it? thank you

Post 4

i just found out i have benign breast lump. They did an ultrasound. They also check my ovaries and

uterus and found a growing tumor. So maybe you should tell your doctor to check further. I'm only 40.

Post 3

My daughter in law just found out that she has a benign tumor in her breast, but they're doing more tests to see exactly what kind of tumor it is.

Can somebody please tell me the different benign breast tumor types so I can have some more information?

Sheila and I would appreciate it greatly!


Post 2

Wait, there's a way to check for breast cancer with an ultrasound? I had heard of getting a breast cancer MRI, but I had never heard of this.

Does the ultrasound replace a breast biopsy, or do you need to get both done if you feel a lump?

Post 1

A very dear friend of mine comes from a family with a history of breast cancer, so when she found a dense lump of breast tissue in her breast, she was devastated.

However, she was extremely lucky -- after they did an ultrasound to check for breast cancer, it turned out that she only had a breast fibroadenoma, a benign breast lump.

Just one more reason to do your breast exam and mammogram, ladies!

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