Breast Health Basics

Often when thinking about breast health and noticing breast changes, the only thing that comes to mind is breast cancer, but non-cancerous breast conditions are breast changes that are not cancer. They are very common and most women have them. In fact, most breast changes that are biopsied and tested turn out to be benign. Unlike breast cancers, benign breast conditions are not life-threatening, but sometimes they can cause symptoms that bother you. In addition certain benign conditions are linked with a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future.

The main function of the breasts is to make milk for breastfeeding. 

  • Breasts have 2 main types of tissues: 
    • Glandular tissues
      • Lobules and ducts. In women who are breastfeeding, the cells of the lobules make milk. The milk then moves through the ducts – tiny tubes that carry milk to the nipple. Each breast has several ducts that lead out to the nipple. 
    • Supporting tissues
      • The support tissue of the breast includes fatty tissue and fibrous connective tissue that give the breast its size and shape

Any of these parts of the breast can undergo changes that cause symptoms. These breast changes can be either benign breast conditions or breast cancers. The most common symptoms are likely to be caused by benign conditions. Still, it’s important to let your doctor know about any changes you notice. Benign conditions have many of the same symptoms as breast cancer, so it can be hard to tell the difference between benign and cancerous conditions from symptoms alone. Your doctor can do other tests to find out exactly what is causing the breast change. Some breast changes may not cause any symptoms and may be found during a mammogram.

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Again, benign conditions are much more common than breast cancer, but it’s important to talk to Dr. Strebel or Dr. Grolle about any changes in your breasts so they can be checked out right away. Ask about what tests might be right for you at your next appointment