When many people think of breast disease, they think of breast cancer. However, there are many diseases and conditions of the breast that are benign (non-cancerous). Benign breast diseases include fibrocystic disease, fibroadenoma, papilloma, mammary dysplasia, and breast infections. Most women experience breast changes at some time. Men also have breast tissue and can develop breast disease. A breast lump, pain, discharge or skin irritation needs to be evaluated by a health care provider. A breast tumor can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not considered breast cancer. Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast.
Family history, age or genetic inheritance can put some women at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Yet the majority of women and men who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors. To protect your breast health perform regular monthly breast self-examinations, see your doctor once a year for a clinical breast exam, and schedule an annual digital mammogram, as appropriate based on age and family history.
There are many signs and symptoms of breast disease including swelling of all or any part of the breast, skin irritation or dimpling, breast pain, nipple pain, nipple discharge, redness, scaling or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, and a lump in the underarm area. It is important to have anything unusual checked by your doctor.
The treatment is determined by the type of breast disease. Surgery is usually the first line of attack against breast cancer. There are multiple surgical options for breast cancer including lumpectomy, simple mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy and lymph node removal. The decision about surgery will depend on many factors. The different treatment options should be discussed with all the physicians involved in the patient’s care.