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Benign & Malignant Breast Tumors - Things You Must Be Aware Of!

Written and reviewed by
MS - Obstetrics and Gynaecology, MBBS
Gynaecologist, Ghaziabad  •  22 years experience
Benign & Malignant Breast Tumors - Things You Must Be Aware Of!

The presence of a lump or a tumor in the breast is not always indicative of breast cancer. In some instances, the breast tumor can be benign or noncancerous as well. Thus, to understand breast cancer better, one should know the difference between a benign and malignant breast tumor. In this article, we will discuss the factors that differentiate a benign breast tumor from a malignant one.

Breast Fibroadenomas

  1. Breast Fibroadenomas are benign breast tumors that often affect women in their early 20s and 30s (can also affect women of other age groups). Research suggests that in spite of being benign and noncancerous, breast fibroadenomas make a woman more susceptible to breast cancer in the future.
  2. It may be difficult to decipher the underlying factor that triggers fibroadenomas. However, increased use of birth control pills (that results in an elevated estrogen level) can be a contributing factor.
  3. Thus, in spite of no discomfort, it is safe to get fibroadenomas removed by lumpectomy or by radiation therapy. There are also instances when fibroadenomas dissolved on their own.
  4. Sometimes, the lobules of the breast can undergo enlargement resulting in the formation of lumps (can be a tumor or a cyst) that are non-cancerous in nature. Such tumors are known as Adenosis.
  5. The benign tumor growth can also develop in the milk ducts of the nipples, a condition known as Intraductal papillomas (characterized by discharge from the nipples).
  6. To stay safe and lower the risk of breast cancer, doctors often recommend the removal of the tumor.

Differences between Benign and Malignant Breast Tumors

  1. One of the major factors resulting in a tumor is the abnormal growth of cells that could be triggered by an injury, an infection or prolonged inflammation.
  2. A factor that plays a pivotal role in differentiating malignant from benign breast lumps or tumors is its ability to metastasize or invade other organs, cells and tissues of the body.
  3. A malignant tumor starts off as a primary tumor that remains confined within its point of origin. Gradually, the cancerous growth metastasize, invading other neighboring as well as distant cells and body organs (Secondary cancer or tumor).
  4. Benign tumors, on the other hand, contains chemical adhesions that prevent their metastasis and invasion to the other vital organs in the body.
  5. As compared to malignant tumors, benign breast tumors, once removed, do not recur.
  6. On the cellular level, microscopic examination reveals that malignant breast tumors often contain unusual, mutated, and modified genes and chromosomes.
  7. More than often, malignant breast tumors give rise to Paraneoplastic Syndrome. The Paraneoplastic Syndrome is characterized by an elevated production of substances (can be antibodies or hormones) by the cancerous growths or tumors. The hormones or the antibodies circulate in the bloodstream and can alter the functioning of a host of vital body tissues and organs with deleterious health consequences.

Such things seldom take place in the case of benign breast tumors. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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