Raising Awareness Of Benign Breast Disease

Sylvia Mancuso, RN BSN, 
Diagnostic Breast Navigator
Telfair Pavilion

Smart Living: Awareness of breast cancer and its prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, continues to grow among women in this community and nationwide. But are there other breast conditions that may require attention from a specialist in a center like the Telfair Pavilion?

Sylvia Mancuso: Yes, there are many types of what are called benign breast conditions. These are conditions that involve breast changes that are not cancerous. Benign breast disease is very common and can occur in both women and men. Just a few examples of benign breast conditions are cysts, fibroadenomas, and fibrocystic conditions.

SL: Do these conditions typically need to be treated?

SM: Some can cause pain or discomfort and need treatment. Others do not need treatment. For example, breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs and are almost always benign. However, some are large and may feel like lumps in the breast and may cause pain. If they are painful they can be drained or aspirated. Fibroadenomas are solid, non-cancerous tumors. Some may be large and cause discomfort, and may be removed. Fibrocystic breast disease is defined as a “lumpy” breast and usually has discomfort in one or both breasts. It is very common and is non-cancerous. Dietary changes are sometimes recommended to reduce pain symptoms.

SL: If not treated, could any of these conditions lead to breast cancer?

SM: I want to stress that benign breast disease is not life-threatening and is not cancer. However, some benign breast diseases put a patient at a higher risk of developing cancer in the future. They occur with lesions that have abnormal-looking cells classified as hyperplasia, atypia, papilloma, sclerosing adenosis or radial scar, to name a few. They may require treatment, surgery or genetic counseling.

SL: How are benign breast conditions diagnosed and treated?

SM: Lump or visual breast changes can often be found through a breast self-exam done at home. If you find a lump during a breast self-exam, don’t panic as most lumps are non-cancerous. However, you should also never ignore a lump or abnormality found in the breast. Make an appointment with your physician to be professionally examined.

Benign breast diseases can be diagnosed by mammography, breast ultrasound, or breast MRI. These exams may lead to a recommendation for biopsy or aspiration to confirm a suspected breast condition. The Telfair Pavilion offers patients a multidisciplinary team approach for breast care, diagnostics and treatment options. State-of-the-art services such as digital mammography, 3-D mammography, breast ultrasound, breast MRI and biopsy are all available here.

Also, Telfair Breast Surgery at St. Joseph’s/Candler treats and monitors patients with benign breast conditions. They treat more than just breast cancer. The team utilizes nationally recognized guidelines from The American Society of Breast Surgeons to provide support and recommendations for ongoing care to those patients with benign breast disease. Benign breast disease is common and can manifest a variety of symptoms. The comprehensive program at Telfair Breast Surgery ensures that a cancer diagnosis is excluded and that benign breast disease is addressed.