Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions

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Duct ectasia

Mastitis

Mastitis can usually be diagnosed based on a woman’s symptoms and a breast exam. 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.

Diagnosis

Mastitis can usually be diagnosed based on a woman’s symptoms and the results of a breast exam. 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.

Treatment

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 antibiotics.

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’ve been diagnosed with mastitis and antibiotic treatment does not help within a week or so, you might need a skin biopsy to be sure it’s not cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer can spread quickly, so don’t put off going back to the doctor if you still have symptoms after antibiotic treatment.

How does mastitis affect your risk for breast cancer?

Having mastitis does not raise your risk of developing breast cancer.


Last Medical Review: 03/16/2015
Last Revised: 04/21/2016