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Benign Breast Disease

Ask the doctor
with Dr. Dubose Medlock, FACS

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, much of the focus is on breast cancer. Most breast lumps, however, are not cancerous. The majority of palpable lesions in the breast (lesions that can be felt during a breast self-examination) are benign – not cancer.

Common causes of palpable breast lesions include cysts, and fibroadenomas. Fibroadenomas are benign lesions which may develop during puberty, but are very slowly growing, and my not become apparent for years. These are commonly identified in younger women Cysts are fluid filled sacs within the breast. The majority of cysts are benign.

Both of these lesions frequently appear as well-circumscribed masses. That is, they have smooth surfaces and can be moved around. They feel somewhat like a marble under the skin. Unfortunately, small breast cancers may have a similar initial appearance.

Although most often benign, any new lesion in the breast should be evaluated by a healthcare professional in order to make sure that a serious condition is not present. Work-up for new lumps may include a painless ultrasound exam. Cysts may often be treated by a fine needle aspiration, where the fluid in the cyst is removed via a small needle and a syringe. Not only can this procedure help rule out a cancer, but it frequently is the only treatment required to make the cyst go away.

Solid (non-fluid filled) masses can sometimes be simply watched by obtaining several ultrasounds over a year or so, or diagnosed by inserting a small needle into the lesion for laboratory examination. Sometime these lesions will be surgically removed if producing symptoms or growing, or sometimes just to relieve patient anxiety.

Identifying a breast lump can be an emotional roller-coaster for women and their families as they deal with the uncertainty of what is going on. By seeking medical care promptly, these lesions can be diagnosed quickly and anxiety frequently relieved.

Please write: Dr. DuBose Medlock, care of The Colletonian, 111-A East Washington St. Walterboro,SC 29488.

Dr. Medlock is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons’ Master Breast Surgery Registry and a partner with Carolina Coastal Surgeons here in Walterboro, you can contact him at 843-549-1421.


Special to The Colletonian (598 Posts)