Benign (not cancer) breast conditions are very common.
Most breast changes, such as breast lumps or breast pain, are not signs of breast cancer.
However, if you notice a lump or any other change that’s new for you, see your GP as soon as possible.
Breast lumps can have a number of different causes.
It’s important to get any breast lumps checked by your doctor as a lump can be a sign of cancer.
Common causes of breast lumps
Common causes of breast lumps include:
- breast cyst – a fluid-filled sac that can develop as the breasts change with age
- fibroadenoma – a lump that often develops during puberty, but which can occur at any age
Less common causes of breast lumps
Less common causes of breast lumps include:
- intraductal papilloma – a wart-like lump that develops in one or more of the milk ducts in the breast
- fat necrosis – a lump that forms when an area of fatty breast tissue is damaged
- benign phyllodes tumour – a rare cause of breast lumps
2. Breast pain
Breast pain is very common in women of all ages.
Find out about what causes breast pain and how to manage it.
3. Rash under the breast
A rash under your breast or breasts, between the folds of skin, is usually caused by a skin condition called intertrigo.
It’s a very common condition that can occur throughout life.
Other common benign breast conditions include:
- breast calcifications – these don’t cause any noticeable symptoms and are usually found during breast screening or an investigation for another breast problem
- periductal mastitis – occurs when the ducts (tubes) under the nipple become inflamed and infected, causing a tender, hot or reddened breast
- gynaecomastia – an enlargement of breast tissue in men, usually affecting teenage boys and older men
Less common benign breast conditions include:
- hyperplasia and atypical hyperplasia – more common in women over 35, these conditions don’t usually cause any symptoms
- Mondor’s disease – caused by inflammation of a vein just under the skin of the breast or chest wall
- sclerosing lesions of the breast – an area of hardened breast tissue, more common in women in their 30s and 40s
- duct ectasia – a result of normal breast changes that happen with age, which doesn’t usually cause any symptoms
- lobular neoplasia – usually found during a biopsy or test being done for another breast symptom or change, often in women aged 40 to 50
Even though most breast changes will not be cancer, it’s still important to find out what is causing a change.
Your GP will examine your breasts. They may decide there’s no need for further investigation, or they may refer you to a breast clinic for further tests.