Identifying Breast Lumps: 8 Non-Cancer Causes of Breast Lumps

“Is it cancer?” is what most people think when they discover a lump in their breast. But, did you know, not all breast lumps are cancerous? In fact, the American Cancer Society reported that four out of five biopsies of breast lumps are benign, harmless and surely not breast cancer.

The more common non-cancer causes of breast lumps are:

  1. Breast cysts- a fluid-filled sac that’s usually benign
  2. Fibroadenoma- a solid, benign mass that is most common in young women
  3. Fibrocystic breasts- lumpy or rope-like breast tissue
  4. Injury or trauma to the breast
  5. Intraductal papilloma- a benign, wart-like growth in a milk duct
  6. Lipoma- a slow-growing lump made up of fatty tissue
  7. Mastitis- an infection in breast tissue that most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding
  8. Milk cyst (galactocele)- a milk-filled cyst that’s usually harmless

Knowing your body and being aware of how your breasts normally look and feel can help determine any new changes such as an increase in size or change in shape. If there are changes you are concerned about, let your doctor know. They will take more steps to find out what it is.



Well, What?

What is a well woman visit and why it is important?

It is a designated time for you and your health care provider to discuss your reproductive health. It may also include an exam, screening tests, like a pap smear or blood work, and immunizations. If you have breasts, a uterus, and/or a vulva it is important to have this type of visit to check the physical organs, even if you do not identify as a woman.

A well woman visit can be important in different ways for different people, depending on their needs and stage of life.  For young women, it may just be a discussion about periods and immunization for prevention of cervical cancer.  For those who are sexually active, contraception and STD prevention will likely be discussed.  Those thinking about starting a family might have a discussion about optimizing their health for conception and pregnancy.  For those 21-65 the Pap test allows cervical cancer to be detected and treated before it causes problems.


For women over 40, getting a mammogram can help detect breast cancer earlier. Those approaching or facing menopause might discuss bone health, changes in their body, symptoms, and strategies to protect them from long term health risks. It may not be necessary to have an internal exam or breast exam every year.  You can discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits.


A well woman visit is another important way to be proactive about your whole health. From an evolutionary stand point, one of the most important functions of our body is to reproduce.  So, reproductive health can be an indicator for overall health and well-being.

It also is an opportunity to continue to build a good, honest relationship with the doctor. With unlimited access to your R-Health doctor, not only are you not pressured with remembering all your questions for a single visit, but no matter what is discussed, you’ll always get the time you need to fully understand and have your input applied to any course of action.

The Truth About Menopause

Randi Protter, MD, FACP, NCMP

Menopause is natural and normal.  And sometimes so, so unpleasant. For many women, it’s also a bonding time – we wink when a colleague in a meeting deftly converts her handout to a make-shift fan, or when she peels off her cardigan to reveal a sleeveless top, regardless of the season.  The sisterhood unites when we glisten (we don’t sweat…)

Some women sail through, other women suffer.  There’s folklore and wives’ tales.  But what do we really know?  Lots!  And here is some info to help keep it real:

The average age of menopause in our country is 52.  Patients often ask for a hormone blood test to see if they are in perimenopause or menopause.  There is usually no need for this.  A woman’s hormonal status is determined by her monthly cycle history.  In perimenopause, women commonly notice changes in their monthly cycle years before their last and final period.  Sometimes there will be monthly skips, followed by months of regularity. Sometimes cycles will get closer together, and then further and further apart.  A woman is in the menopause when there has been no bleeding at all – not even one drop – for a full year.  If there is one drop of blood on day 364, the clock resets, and we wait for another full year.

Patients most commonly will seek treatment for the most annoying symptoms – hot flashes and night sweats.  Also top on the list – vaginal dryness, painful sex, insomnia, and weight gain.

Not every woman has symptoms associated with menopause, but for those women who do have symptoms, treatment is only indicated if the symptoms are bothersome.  Maintaining a normal weight, regular exercise, and quitting smoking (if applicable) may provide some relief of mild hot flashes.

Treatment for bothersome menopause symptoms should be customized, based on symptoms, coexisting medical conditions, and concurrent use of medications/herbs/supplements.    We have many non-hormonal and hormonal options, and many different ways to deliver the medication – oral, topical (patch, creams, gels, sprays, etc), and vaginal (creams, tablets, and rings).

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is a great menopause resource.

If you are having bothersome menopausal symptoms, discuss them with your R-Health doctor – some specialize in menopause medicine – they can help you through this sometimes challenging transition.