- Non-cancerous Breast Conditions
- What is normal breast tissue and what does it do?
- Finding benign breast conditions
- American Cancer Society recommendations for early breast cancer detection
- Diagnosing benign breast changes
- Imaging tests for breast disease
- Nipple discharge exam (nipple smear)
- Types of non-cancerous breast conditions
- Fibrosis and simple cysts
- Lobular carcinoma in situ
- Phyllodes tumors
- Intraductal papillomas
- Granular cell tumors
- Fat necrosis and oil cysts
- Duct ectasia
- Other benign breast conditions
- How benign breast conditions affect breast cancer risk
- For women at increased breast cancer risk
- Additional resources
Mastitis is inflammation of the breast. It is most often caused by a breast infection that affects women who are breastfeeding, but it can happen in any woman. A break in the skin or an opening in the nipple can allow bacteria to enter the breast duct, where they can grow. The body's white blood cells release substances to fight the infection. This causes swelling and increased blood flow. The area may become painful, red, and warm to the touch. Other symptoms can include fever and a headache.
Mastitis is treated with antibiotics. In some cases, a breast abscess (a collection of pus) may form. Abscesses are treated by draining the pus, either by surgery or by using a needle (often guided by ultrasound), and then giving antibiotics.
Having mastitis does not raise a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. But an uncommon type of cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer has symptoms that are a lot like mastitis and can be mistaken for an infection. If you are diagnosed with mastitis but antibiotic treatment does not help, a biopsy of the skin may be needed to be sure it is not cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer can spread quickly, so do not put off going back to the doctor if you still have symptoms after antibiotic treatment.
Last Medical Review: 08/24/2012
Last Revised: 08/24/2012