Benign Breast Diseases/Disorders

Many of us are well versed with Breast Cancer, but the breast can be affected like any other tissue in the body with several diseases such as infections and abscess and presenting with lumps, pain, discomfort, nipple discharge and skin wound or discoloration. In this article we will just give an overview of some of the benign conditions affecting the breast. For Breast cancer see our article

This is the most common cause of breast problems and up to 30% of women will suffer benign breast disorder  at some time in their lives.

Congenital anomalies

Amazia – absence of the breast may occur on one or both sides. Common in men

Polymazia – accessory breasts – in the axilla (most frequent site), groin, buttock and thighs. They have been known to function during lactation.


Breast abscess

Breast abscess is common during lactation especially second week of puerperium and during pregnancy.

Breast abscess presents with breast pain and sometimes fever. Confirmation is done by a doctor by aspiration of pus using a big bore needle.

Breast abscess is managed by incision and drainage by the doctor and then you are given antibiotics such as flucloxacillin for a week.

Breast abscess and surgical drainage

During this period, don’t stop breastfeeding unless nipple is cracked or discharging pus in which case you express the milk.

Breast cyst

Breast cyst suddenly appears, usually single but can be multiple.

Breast cyst presents with pain and discomfort.

Breast cyst is common between 45- 52 years of age.

Diagnosis is made by aspiration


Fibroadenoma is a benign tumor of the breast which is very common among the age group of 15- 25 years. A single sometimes multiple lumps may appear.

Surgery to remove the lump is avoided below 30 years of age unless the lump is big, growing fast or psychologically affecting the patient.

Fibroadenomas being removed by incision

Duct Ectasia

This is the focal dilatation of the ducts of the breast which leads to watery or greenish discharge. Common in 40–50 years of age.

Periductal Mastitis

Chronic inflammatory response, painful mass or even abscess. 90% of affected are cigarette smokers.

Common in women not breastfeeding.

Management of both duct ectasia and periductal mastitis is with antibiotics such as amoxyclav, flucloxacillin and metronidazole.


Milky discharge without breastfeeding associated with Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism, mechanical stimulation of the breast and stress.

It is important to note that it is normal to discharge milk in some situations such as in new born termed as ‘witch’s milk’, during menses, during puberty also men especially associated with gynecomatsia.

Intraductal Papilloma

Presents with bloody discharge and the risk of cancer increases one to two times. See your doctor when you have bloody discharge.


Painful breast.

Can be cyclic related or non-cyclic.

Managed by pain killers and supporting the breast.

This is just an overview of benign breast disease to educate that not all diseases of the breast is breast cancer.

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