The body is made up of billions of cells. Sometimes, these cells can multiply and grow in an unusual and uncontrolled manner, in one or various parts of the body. This abnormal activity may cause a mass, or lump, which is a rigid accumulation of the cells signalling the possibility of cancer. Among women, the most common occurrence of such cancer is in the breast, although it can also happen in the lungs, kidneys, vagina, or cervix.
But, not all accumulation occurrences of cells are cancerous. The Channel 46 caught up with Dr Neha Bothra, OB/GYN Consultant, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, to understand benign breast conditions that women should watch out for, and immediately report to their doctor. Here’s everything you need to know:
5 Benign Breast Conditions That Need Doctor Intervention
Typically cancer (tumour) mass is of two types:
- Cancerous: Also known as malignant tumours, this can spread in the glands, tissues and other parts of the body apart from where the mass is located in.
- Precancerous: This tumour, though noncancerous, has the possibility of turning malignant (cancerous) if no treatment is taken for it in the long term, and if its stays in the body.
Here are some benign breast conditions to watch out for:
The most common and widely known benign breast condition is fibroadenomas in the breast. Fibroadenomas, as their name suggests are fibrous tissue growths within the breast. They can be single or multiple and may be seen in one or both breasts. They are seen in the younger age groups but may be present in the late teenage groups, too. Fibroadenomas may or may not require surgical removal, depending on their size, location, symptoms like pain etc, and whether they are growing in size with time. Fibroadenomas have a very small risk of becoming malignant, but they require you to follow up with the doctor to closely monitor their size and other parameters.
Fibroadenosis of the breast is the most common condition causing pain in the breast. This condition comes under the umbrella of BBDs or Benign Breast Diseases. Abnormal fibro-cystic changes in the breast tissue, both in the milk-producing tissue and the fibrous tissue, make the breasts feel painful, tender and swollen. These symptoms are usually aggravated in the pre-menstrual period. This condition can be treated effectively with a variety of medications available.
Milky discharge from the nipples is called galactorrhea. This may be seen in one or both breasts and most commonly is caused due to high levels of the hormone prolactin in the body. Blood tests to confirm the prolactin levels and medications to reduce the same will treat this condition. At the same time, imaging of the brain will have to be done to rule out pituitary tumours that may cause this rise in prolactin hormone in the blood.
4. Breast Abscess or Mastitis
Severe pain and swelling in the breast coupled with fever can be the first signs of infection within the breast. This condition is called mastitis. When the infection also has pus within it, then it is called a breast abscess. Mastitis most commonly occurs in breastfeeding mothers when the breast milk does not empty adequately and becomes a focus for infection. Depending on the severity of the infection and the presence of pus, surgical treatment might be required to drain the pus along with antibiotics administration.
5. Traumatic Fat Necrosis
Sometimes the breast tissue might incur some direct trauma during even routine activities. This can result in a condition called traumatic fat necrosis. At the time of the injury, the fatty tissue in the breast becomes necrosed and scar tissue develops in its place. This scar tissue may feel lumpy or might be painful. The pain is usually self-limiting and needs anti-inflammatory medication only.
Hence, when one notices that there is an abnormal mass, pain or discharge in the body, it is important to consult a doctor to understand the type of tumour it is and the medical intervention that is needed. Also, even if the tumour is benign, the decision to operate on it or leave it alone should be taken under the doctor’s guidance and advice. You can have your breast health routinely examined by your OB/GYN as part of your gynaecological examination once every 6 months.
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