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Find out more about granulomatous mastitis, a benign (not cancer) breast condition.

1. What is granulomatous mastitis?

Granulomatous mastitis is a rare, benign (not cancer) breast condition.

The causes of granulomatous mastitis are unclear, so it is difficult to say why it develops.

2. Who it affects

Granulomatous mastitis is more common in women who have had children and who have breastfed. However, it can affect women who have not had children.

Some research also suggests that granulomatous mastitis is more common in women who:

  • Use oral contraceptives
  • Have diabetes
  • Have an autoimmune disease
  • Have rare infections

Granulomatous mastitis can develop in men, although it is very rare.

3. Symptoms of granulomatous mastitis

The symptoms of granulomatous mastitis can continue for several months and may include:

  • A tender lump or lumps in the breast
  • Pain, redness and swelling in the breast
  • The nipple being pulled inward (inverting)
  • Skin inflammation or ulceration
  • The skin of the breast looking pitted like the skin of an orange (known as peau d’orange)
  • Abscesses (painful collections of pus) or lesions (areas of abnormal tissue) on the skin of the breast
  • Swelling or lumps in the armpit

Although granulomatous mastitis is a benign (not cancer) breast condition, the symptoms can be similar to those of inflammatory breast cancer or a breast infection.

It’s important to go to your GP if you notice any of these changes.

4. Diagnosis

Once you have seen your GP, they may refer you to a breast clinic.

At the breast clinic you’ll be examined by a doctor or specialist nurse.

Granulomatous mastitis can be difficult to diagnose, so you may have a range of tests at the breast clinic. These may include:

  • An  
  • An MRI
  • Routine blood tests

A is often needed to diagnose granulomatous mastitis and rule out other breast conditions, such as inflammatory breast cancer, or other illnesses.

5. Treatment

Granulomatous mastitis can be difficult to treat, and treatment will depend on your individual symptoms and the underlying cause.

If your only symptom is a breast lump, granulomatous mastitis may get better without any treatment.

If you do need treatment for granulomatous mastitis, this could be:  

  • Drug treatment, such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication
  • Surgery to the affected area of the breast – in some cases this may be a

Your specialist will talk to you about the type of drug treatment or surgery you may need.

Granulomatous mastitis can come back (recurrence), even if you have had surgery to remove the affected area. Your specialist will talk to you about any follow-up appointments you may need.  

6. Can granulomatous mastitis increase the risk of breast cancer?

Granulomatous mastitis does not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

It’s important to be breast aware and go back to your GP if you notice any changes in your breasts, no matter how soon after your diagnosis of, or treatment for, granulomatous mastitis.

7. Further support

If you have any questions or concerns about granulomatous mastitis, our specialist team are ready to listen on our free helpline. See below for more information.

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Quality Assurance

This information was published in November 2023. We will revise it in November 2026.

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