What are benign breast lumps?
A benign breast lump is caused by the excessive growth of normal cells and tissues. The growth is not cancerous; it consists of tissue that helps to support the breast. There are common causes, which include changes in tissue, an infection, injury and medicines. Breast tissue is sensitive to hormone levels that change during the menstrual cycle. The most common types of benign breast lumps are known as fibroadenomas.
What are the symptoms of benign breast lumps?
The main symptom is the appearance of a hard cyst in the breast, which is painless when touched and which, not being attached to the skin, moves around. Other symptoms include breast discomfort and tenderness, irregular nodules or small lumps and dense breast tissue.
What are the causes of benign breast lumps?
Currently, the cause is not known, although it is believed that it may be due to a hormonal imbalance. It primarily affects women during puberty, the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. However, it also occurs, at a lower frequency, in postmenopausal women.
Can they be prevented?
There are some everyday measures that may help prevent the development of benign breast lumps. These are:
- Monthly breast self-examination and observation.
- A healthy diet.
- Reducing intake of trans saturated fats and carbohydrates, as these raise the level of oestrogens, which stimulate breast tissue.
- Avoiding caffeine, which contains methylxanthines, a substance that can overstimulate the growth of breast tissue.
- Not wearing bras so tightly that blood circulation is hindered.
What is the treatment for benign breast lumps?
A diagnosis is made using ultrasound and further refined with a needle biopsy. Given that benign breast lumps are related to hormonal changes in women, they do not always have to be removed and usually disappear by themselves within a couple of years.
When is surgery required for benign breast lumps?
Surgery is performed when the lump is growing rapidly, is causing discomfort or for aesthetic reasons. However, medical tests are necessary if a tumour is suspected.