Other Non-cancerous Breast Conditions

These are some of the less common types of benign (non-cancerous) tumors and conditions that can be found in the breast.

Radial scars

Radial scars are also called complex sclerosing lesions. They’re most often found when a breast biopsy is done for some other purpose. Sometimes radial scars distort the normal breast tissue.

Radial scars are not really scars, but they look like scars when seen under a microscope. Radial scars do not usually cause symptoms, but they are important for 2 reasons:  

  • If they are large enough, they may look like cancer on a mammogram, or even on a biopsy.       
  • They’re linked to a slight increase in the woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Women who have them may be advised to see their health care provider more often than usual so tests can be done to watch for changes in the radial scars. Some providers recommend surgery to remove radial scars.

Other breast changes that are not cancer

Lipomas are common, benign fatty tumors that can appear almost anywhere in the body, including the breast. They’re usually not tender.

Rare benign lumps or tumors that may be found in the breast include:             

  • Hamartoma: a smooth, painless lump formed by the overgrowth of mature breast cells, which may be made up of fatty, fibrous, and/or gland tissues1       
  • Hemangioma: a rare tumor made of blood vessels
  • Hematoma: a collection of blood within the breast caused by internal bleeding       
  • Adenomyoepithelioma: a very rare tumor formed by certain cells in the milk duct walls  
  • Neurofibroma: a tumor that’s an overgrowth of nerve cells

Do any of these breast changes affect your risk for breast cancer?

None of these conditions raises breast cancer risk, but they may need to be biopsied or removed to know what they are and be sure they don’t have any cancer cells in them.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

1 Amir RA, Sheikh SS. Breast hamartoma: A report of 14 cases of an under-recognized and under-reported entity. Int J Surg Case Rep. 2016;22:1-4.

Chang A, Bassett L, Bose S. Adenomyoepithelioma of the breast: A cytologic dilemma. Report of a case and review of the literature. Diagn Cytopathol. 2002;26:191-196.

Lv M, Zhu X, Zhong S, et al. Radial scars and subsequent breast cancer risk: A meta-analysis. PLoS ONE. 2014:9(7): e102503.

Matrai C, D'Alfonso TM, Pharmer L, et al. Advocating nonsurgical management of patients with small, incidental radial scars at the time of needle core biopsy: A study of 77 cases. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2015;139:1137-1142.

Schnitt SJ, Collins LC. Pathology of benign breast disorders. In: Harris JR, Lippman ME, Morrow M, Osborne CK, eds. Diseases of the Breast. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010:69-85.

Last Medical Review: March 16, 2015 Last Revised: April 21, 2016

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