Medical Services

Breast Care Center: Breast Problems & Symptoms

Common Breast Problems

Although the below list represents common breast problems and symptoms, evaluation by a medical professional is recommended to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

Breast Pain
This is a common breast symptom. It is not ordinarily a symptom of cancer. However, a woman with a persistent breast pain or pain associated with a breast lump should see a medical professional for an evaluation.

Most frequently, breast pain is associated with normal changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle and/or the presence of a breast cyst. Often it disappears as mysteriously as it came. Medical treatment for breast pain is dependent upon the cause.

When seeing a medical professional for breast pain, it is important that the women be able to describe the pain, e.g., what kind of pain is it (ache, sharp, throbbing, etc.), when and where does it occur, how long have you had it and is it associated with a breast lump or other change in the breast.

Fibrocystic Changes
This term applies to a generalized lumpiness of the breast. Women sometimes describe the lumpiness as "ropy" or "granular." Cysts (fluid-filled sacs) may also be present. Frequently cysts enlarge and become tender or painful just before the menstrual period. Some cysts cannot be felt while others are large in size. Cysts are usually treated by observation or fine-needle aspiration (a slender needle is used to remove fluid from the cyst).

Fibroadenoma
This is a common benign breast lump made up of both fibrous and glandular tissue. Usually fibroadenomas are round, movable and feel rubbery. They occur in women at any age but are more common in young adulthood and are more common in African American women. Fibroadenomas have a benign appearance on mammography. Fine Needle Aspiration or ultrasound may be used to further evaluate these lumps.

Nipple Discharge
Most nipple discharge is caused by benign (non-cancerous) conditions. Women taking birth control pills or other medications such as sedatives or tranquilizers may have a nipple discharge. Others with fibrocystic changes may experience a sticky discharge that is brown or green. A small wartlike growth in the ducts near the nipple (intraductal papilloma) can also cause a discharge. Nipple discharge can also be caused by an infection and may require antibiotics. Remember any change in your normal breasts, including a new discharge or a change in the amount or color of an existing discharge, should be reported to your medical professional.