Benign (not cancer) breast conditions are very common. This is because during the reproductive years women’s breasts are constantly going through change, from the time of their development, through pregnancy and the menopause. This is as a result of normal responses to the ageing process along with fluctuations in hormone levels, namely follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) and oestradial hormone.
Men can also develop benign breast conditions and the most common male benign condition is gynaecomastia.
Benign breast conditions are much more common than breast cancer. The vast majority of referrals to a breast clinic from a GP (local doctor) will be assessed as either being a normal change or a benign breast condition. However, every time a woman has a new symptom, such as a change in breast shape, a breast lump, breast pain or nipple discharge, she should go and see her GP.
Treatment for a benign breast condition may be needed to improve quality of life, but benign breast conditions are not cancer, nor do they increase the risk of breast cancer developing in the future (with the exception of atypical hyperplasia, gross cysts and solitary duct papilloma).
Content last reviewed July 2012; next planned review 2013