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Can a Benign Breast Lump Become Cancerous?

November 01, 2019

Benign Breast Lump

Breast lumps often form when excess cells accumulate and bind together. One common type of benign breast mass is a fibroadenoma, which can develop if breast tissue grows over a milk-producing gland (lobule). Like most breast lumps, fibroadenomas are not serious and will not become cancerous. Even so, it is important to have any breast mass promptly evaluated by a medical professional, who can determine whether it is benign or malignant, usually by performing imaging tests and a biopsy.

Is a benign breast lump a cause for concern?

Unlike a cancerous tumor, which can potentially invade nearby tissues and spread to distant organs, a benign mass is not life-threatening, cannot metastasize and may not require treatment. After diagnosing a benign breast lump, a physician may simply suggest a "wait-and-watch" approach to monitor the mass for changes. Surgical removal may be recommended if a noncancerous mass grows large enough to cause discomfort or press on a vital structure, such as a nerve or blood vessel.

Can the prognosis change over time?

In some cases, it may be unclear whether a tumor is benign or malignant, leading to an uncertain diagnosis that requires ongoing follow-up. Additionally, it is possible that a biopsy could identify precancerous cells or miss an area of tissue in which cancerous cells are more prevalent. In any of these scenarios, a lump that was initially believed to be benign could later be identified as malignant after it further grows and develops.

Discuss your symptoms with an expert at Moffitt

For your peace of mind, you can have your breast lump evaluated by an expert in the Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. There’s no need to obtain a referral prior to requesting an appointment. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.