Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Cancer Risk of Benign Breast Lumps Studied

Researchers Say Some Noncancerous Lumps May Raise Risk; Odds Low for Most Women
WebMD Health News

July 20, 2005 -- New research links some noncancerous breast lumps to a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.

But there are many influences on breast cancer. The vast majority of women won't develop breast cancer as a result of benign breast lumps.

Those findings appear in a study and related editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Breast Lumps Are Common

Many women feel lumps in their breasts, especially before their menstrual period.

It can be reassuring to know that most breast lumps aren't cancer. While heart disease actually kills more women -- and breast cancer survival is improving -- many women fear breast cancer.

Still, it's important to have a doctor check out any breast lumps, get recommended screenings, and learn what's normal for your body.

Mammography, ultrasound, and biopsies are tools doctors may use to identify the type of lump.

Types of Benign Breast Lumps

Since most breast lumps aren't cancer, what are they?

Here's a quick rundown from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation:

  • Cysts: tiny fluid-filled sacs that are almost always benign.
  • Fibroadenomas: another type of benign lump.
  • Calcifications: scattered or clustered bits of calcium in the breast.
  • Hyperplasia: a noncancerous condition in which there is an excess of multiplying cells.

Hyperplasia raises the risk of breast cancer, states the Komen Foundation's web site.

Occasionally, clusters of tiny calcifications (microcalcifications) can indicate cancer or precursors to cancer, the foundation's web site states.

Latest Study

Lynn Hartmann, MD, and colleagues studied more than 9,000 women with noncancerous breast lumps.

The women were 18-85 years old. They were diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., with benign breast disease between 1967 and 1991.

Over about 15 years, the group had 707 breast cancers. That's more than what's typical among women in the general public, writes Hartmann, who works in the Mayo Clinic's medical oncology department.

Family history of breast cancer was important. So was the type of benign breast lump.

Having a family history of breast cancer raised the odds of getting breast cancer. Women without a family history of breast cancer and benign lumps (those not characterized by multiplying cells) were not more likely to get breast cancer.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow