Detection of Benign Breast Conditions | Benign Breast Tumors | Breast Inflammation or Infection | Fibrocystic Changes

Many women may develop benign forms of breast inflammation or infection. The most common forms are mastitis and duct ectasia.

Mastitis is the general classification given to any infection of the breast. Mastitis occurs most frequently in women who are breast-feeding. This condition is known as periductal mastitis. Cracked skin around the nipple allows bacteria cells from the skin surface to enter the breast duct, where they grow and attract inflammatory cells.

This condition usually resolves with antibiotic treatment. Occasionally, however, an abscess will form. An abscess is a collection of pus, or inflammatory cells and fluid. Abscesses are treated surgically by aspirating (draining) the fluid with a needle.

Duct ectasia is a widening of the ducts of the breast, a condition that occurs most frequently in women in their 40s and 50s. A thick and sticky discharge, usually gray to green in color, is the most common symptom. Tenderness and redness of the nipple and surrounding breast tissue may also be present. Sometimes, scar tissue forms around the abnormal duct, leading to a lump that may be initially mistaken for cancer.

Duct ectasia is usually treated with warm compresses and antibiotics. On some occasions, this condition does not respond adequately to antibiotics and surgical removal of the abnormal duct is required.