Benign Breast Disease

Suburban Surgical Associates/Suburban Metabolic Institute

General Surgeons located in Berwyn, IL, Elmhurst, IL & La Grange, IL

Benign breast disease is quite common, affecting about one million women every year. There are multiple types of benign breast disease, and while not cancerous, some can increase your risk slightly for developing breast cancer in the future. The physicians at Suburban Surgical Associate/Suburban Metabolic Institute have extensive experience performing breast biopsies and surgeries to remove benign lumps. To meet with a surgeon, call one of our offices in Berwyn, or La Grange, Illinois, or book an appointment online.

Benign Breast Disease Q & A

What is benign breast disease?

Benign breast disease refers to changes that occur in your breast that aren’t due to cancer. You may experience breast swelling, pain, nipple discharge, or notice a change in the shape or appearance of your breasts. You can also develop benign lumps or masses as cells undergo unusual growth.

Benign breast diseases often go away on their own, or they’re easy to treat. Some common benign breast conditions include:

  • Fibrosis or simple cyst: fibrous tissues build up, or small, fluid-filled cysts develop
  • Mastitis: infection that often occurs in a milk-producing gland
  • Duct ectasia: milk duct thickens, and fluid builds up
  • Adenosis: numerous, enlarged milk-producing glands
  • Fat necrosis and oil cysts: injury to your breast makes fat cells die and form an oil cyst

Can some types of benign breast disease raise your risk of developing breast cancer?

Several types of breast disease are not cancerous on their own, but having them can increase your chance of developing breast cancer. These breast conditions include:


Fibroadenomas are lumps consisting of glandular and connective tissues. You can have one or many; they may be too small to feel or several inches wide.

Intraductal papillomas

These are wart-like tumors that grow within milk ducts. A single papilloma doesn’t affect your risk of breast cancer, but your risk slightly increases if you have several papillomas.

Atypia and Hyperplasia

Hyperplasia occurs when cells lining the ducts or milk glands overgrow. The cells may look nearly normal, so they don’t affect your risk of breast cancer, or they may appear atypical.

There are several lesions, such as flat epithelial atypia, complex sclerosing lesion, and atypical ductal hyperplasia that warrant mentioning. Surgical excision of these lesions is typically advisable, due to the risk of malignant transformation.

Atypical ductal hyperplasia is of particular concern and can raise a woman’s risk of subsequent cancer as much as fourfold. It's also thought to be a precursor to DCIS and subsequently invasive carcinoma. For this reason, we strongly recommend excision of ADH, and often other therapies may be recommended postoperatively to reduce risk.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

LCIS isn't cancer, and it doesn’t spread, but it consists of cells that look like cancer. However, having it increases your risk of developing invasive breast cancer in the future.

How are benign breast diseases diagnosed and treated?

Some benign breast diseases are diagnosable with a breast exam, ultrasound, or mammogram. Other conditions need a breast biopsy to be sure you don’t have any cancerous changes.

Many physicians recommend removing fibroadenomas and atypical hyperplasia using a surgical procedure similar to a lumpectomy that’s called an excisional breast biopsy.  Benign breast disease typically doesn’t require mastectomy, or surgical breast removal, unless a biopsy reveals more extensive cancerous changes.