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Breast Diseases

Breast Diseases: Types, Symptoms, and Importance of Screening

Breast diseases encompass a variety of conditions that can affect breast tissue, ranging from benign lumps to malignant cancers. Understanding the different types of breast diseases, recognizing their symptoms, and appreciating the importance of ultrasound screening are essential steps in maintaining breast health. This guide provides an in-depth look at these aspects.

Types of Breast Diseases

Benign Breast Diseases

1. Fibroadenoma

Description: A fibroadenoma is a non-cancerous breast tumor composed of glandular and connective tissues. It is the most common benign breast tumor found in women under 30 years old.


  • Smooth, firm, and movable lumps within the breast tissue.
  • Typically painless, although they can cause discomfort if they grow large.


  • Observation: Often monitored through regular check-ups and ultrasounds to ensure they do not grow or change.
  • Surgical Removal: Required if the fibroadenoma is symptomatic, growing, or if there is uncertainty about the diagnosis.

2. Fibrocystic Breast Changes

Description: This common condition involves lumpy or rope-like breast tissue. These changes are considered normal and are not harmful.


  • Lumpiness in both breasts.
  • Breast pain or tenderness, especially before menstruation.
  • Fluctuating size of lumps correlating with the menstrual cycle.


  • Lifestyle Changes: Reducing caffeine and fat intake.
  • Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers and supportive bras.
  • Hormonal Treatments: In severe cases, birth control pills or other hormonal treatments may be prescribed.

3. Cysts

Description: Fluid-filled sacs within the breast that can vary in size and may develop in one or both breasts.


  • Smooth, round, and movable lumps that may be tender, particularly before menstruation.


  • Aspiration: Removal of fluid from the cyst using a fine needle.
  • Observation: Regular monitoring if cysts are asymptomatic.
  • Surgical Removal: Rarely required, only if cysts are recurrent or cause significant discomfort.

4. Intraductal Papilloma

Description: Small, benign tumors that form in the milk ducts of the breast, often near the nipple.


  • Nipple discharge, which can be clear or bloody.
  • A small lump near the nipple.


  • Surgical Removal: To remove the papilloma and the affected duct.

5. Mastitis

Description: An infection of the breast tissue that results in inflammation, typically affecting breastfeeding women.


  • Pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected breast.
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms.


  • Antibiotics: To treat the infection.
  • Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Breastfeeding Support: Continued breastfeeding or pumping to help clear the infection.



Malignant Breast Diseases

1. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)

Description: A non-invasive cancer where abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct but have not spread outside the duct.


  • Typically asymptomatic.
  • Sometimes detected through a lump or nipple discharge.


  • Surgery: Lumpectomy or mastectomy to remove the affected tissue.
  • Radiation Therapy: Often follows surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence.
  • Hormone Therapy: For hormone receptor-positive DCIS.

2. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

Description: The most common type of breast cancer, which begins in the milk ducts and spreads to surrounding tissue.


  • Lump or mass in the breast.
  • Skin changes such as dimpling or puckering.
  • Nipple discharge or retraction.
  • Breast pain.


  • Surgery: Lumpectomy or mastectomy.
  • Chemotherapy: To kill cancer cells or shrink tumors.
  • Radiation Therapy: Post-surgery to eliminate remaining cancer cells.
  • Hormone Therapy: For hormone receptor-positive cancers.
  • Targeted Therapy: For specific cancer types.

3. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)

Description: Cancer that begins in the lobules (milk-producing glands) and spreads to surrounding tissues.


  • Thickening or hardening in the breast.
  • Changes in breast shape or size.
  • Nipple changes or discharge.


  • Similar to IDC, involving surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.

4. Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Description: A rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that blocks lymph vessels in the skin of the breast.


  • Red, swollen, and warm breast.
  • Skin may appear pitted like an orange peel.
  • Often no distinct lump.


  • Chemotherapy: To shrink the tumor before surgery.
  • Surgery: Mastectomy to remove the affected breast.
  • Radiation Therapy: After surgery to target remaining cancer cells.
  • Targeted Therapy: For specific cancer types.

5. Paget’s Disease of the Breast

Description: A rare cancer that starts on the nipple and extends to the areola.


  • Redness, scaling, and flaking of the nipple skin.
  • Possible discharge from the nipple.
  • Itching or burning sensation.


  • Surgery: Removal of the affected tissue.
  • Radiation Therapy: Often used after surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: For more advanced cases.

Symptoms of Breast Diseases

Recognizing the symptoms of breast diseases is crucial for early detection and treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • Lumps or Masses: Any new lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm area.
  • Changes in Size or Shape: Any noticeable change in the size or shape of the breast.
  • Skin Changes: Dimpling, puckering, redness, or scaling of the breast skin.
  • Nipple Changes: Inversion, discharge (especially if bloody), or changes in appearance.
  • Pain: Persistent pain in the breast or nipple that is not related to the menstrual cycle.
  • Swelling: Unexplained swelling of the breast, particularly if it is one-sided.

Importance of Ultrasound Screening

Early Detection

  • Improves Outcomes: Early detection of breast cancer significantly improves the chances of successful treatment and survival.
  • Identifies Asymptomatic Conditions: Ultrasound screening can detect breast diseases before symptoms appear, allowing for early intervention.

Benefits of Ultrasound Screening

  1. Non-Invasive and Safe: Ultrasound is a non-invasive, radiation-free imaging method, making it safe for all women, including those who are pregnant or young.
  2. Real-Time Imaging: Provides real-time images, allowing for immediate assessment and decision-making.
  3. Differentiation: Effective at distinguishing between solid masses (like fibroadenomas) and fluid-filled cysts.
  4. Guidance for Biopsies: Helps guide needle biopsies, ensuring accurate sampling of suspicious areas.

Screening Recommendations

  1. Routine Screening: For women with dense breast tissue, ultrasound can complement mammography to provide a more comprehensive evaluation.
  2. Diagnostic Tool: Used to investigate abnormalities detected by physical exams or mammograms.
  3. High-Risk Patients: Particularly beneficial for women at high risk of breast cancer due to family history or genetic predispositions.


Understanding the various types of breast diseases, their symptoms, and the importance of regular ultrasound screening is crucial for maintaining breast health. Regular screenings and being aware of any changes in your breasts can lead to early detection and better treatment outcomes.

For more information or to schedule a breast health screening, please contact London Private Ultrasound. Visit our website at www.londonsono.com, call us at 02071013377, or email us at [email protected]. Take proactive steps towards maintaining your breast health today.