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Most breast conditions are benign (noncancerous), causing no serious harm to you. But all women are at some risk for breast cancer. This risk increases as they become older. So if you notice any breast changes that aren’t normal for you, see your healthcare provider. This helps to ensure proper treatment if there is a problem.
Infections of the breast tissue can cause skin redness, warmth, and pain or tenderness. The most common infection is mastitis. This inflammation of the mammary glands can occur during breastfeeding. Mastitis and other breast infections are often treated with antibiotics.
Many women can squeeze a tiny amount of a clear or milky discharge from one or both nipples. This discharge may be normal. Other kinds of discharge may be symptoms of a breast condition. A dark discharge can be caused by an intraductal papilloma (a benign growth in a duct near the nipple). A nipple discharge that is dark or bloody, or that happens without squeezing your nipple, should be checked by your healthcare provider.
These benign changes may cause a thickening in the breasts. Breasts may be tender or painful. They may feel more dense in some areas than in others. Sometimes solid or fluid-filled lumps (cysts) may also form. Cysts may be smooth, soft or firm, and tender. They may become larger and more tender right before your period.
Benign breast lumps come in all shapes, textures, and sizes. A fibroadenoma (a lump of fibrous tissue) may be smooth, firm, and rubbery. This type of lump is usually painless and movable. Have any lump checked by your healthcare provider.