Breast Health Awareness

Education and understanding are powerful weapons against fear. Through building your awareness of what is normal for your personal body – you equip yourself to detect a variation should any change(s) occur. Regular breast self-exams are a vital tool in the fight against breast cancer, but what happens when a self-exam shows up a breast lump?

A breast lump of any size can be disconcerting to discover. However, it is important remember that not every lump is cancer.

Types of Benign Breast Lumps explained

A benign lump is formed by an over-accumulation of cells. In medical terminology all such masses are labelled as tumours. All lumps which are not cancerous (i.e. malignant) are Benign. Various health conditions including infection, fluctuating hormones, and even some medications can create lumps within breast tissue. The most common explanations for benign breast lumps are as follows…

Fibrocystic Changes

This condition is not cancer nor a disease; fibrosis and simple cysts are the most common causes of benign breast lumps. Fibrosis refers to large amounts of fibrous tissue (similar to what ligaments and scars consist of). Cysts are fluid filled sacs within the breasts. The size and sensitivity of these type of lumps often correlates with a woman’s cycle. Surging ovarian hormones often lead to increases seen before menstruation and diminishing after. These types of lumps are frequent during the ‘child-bearing’ years, but can affect women at any age. They may be found anywhere within one or both breasts.


These lumps are solid masses of glandular and stromal (i.e. connective) tissue. They often lack tenderness to the touch, are movable when palpated, and are firm or rubbery in texture. In size, they range from microscopic to several inches. They account for nearly all lumps in women under 25 and appear frequently in individuals aged 18 to 35.


These are little lumps which form close to the nipple or within the lining of the mammary ducts. They are not cancer but rather a benign fatty tumour. They may cause disconcerting discharge from the nipple.


This infection inside the milk duct can create lumps or abscesses within the breast as well as redness, the feeling of warmth, and a fever. It usually only affects one breast at a time.

Fat Necrosis & Oil Cysts

Injury sustained by a breast damages fatty tissue and can lead to the formation of lumps and oil cysts. This is more often the case for women who have significantly large breasts.
* Sources: [1][2]


What Next?

If you have found a lump, schedule an appointment with your Doctor. We strongly recommend avoiding relying on your own best guess or self-diagnose using the web.

Get medical attention from an expert. Early evaluation empowers you to move forward!

Should the lump prove to be benign; your peace of mind is restored. With bad news, the earlier detection grants you a fuller gamut of treatment options to assess and take advantage of.

Remember: 80% of biopsies determine that a lump is benign [Statistic Source].


Beyond Breast Cancer

Dr Potgieter is a Cosmetic Surgeon who regularly performs Breast Reconstruction surgeries for women who desire to restore their contours. For more information on what is available please note the following articles:

· Decoding your Options if you have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
· How different types of breast cancer treatments affect your breast reconstruction options.

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