Diagnosing Benign (Noncancerous) Breast Conditions

Diagnosing Noncancerous (Benign) Breast

How are benign breast conditions and
infections diagnosed?

To diagnose a breast condition,
your healthcare provider will take your complete health history. Your provider may

  • Do a complete physical exam

    • Locate any lump and
      feel its features, such as texture, size, and relationship to the skin and
      chest muscles

    • Look for changes in the
      nipples or the skin of the breast

    • Check lymph nodes under
      the arm and above the collarbones

  • Request imaging tests,

    • Diagnostic mammography
      to look for masses and calcifications

    • Breast ultrasound to
      further evaluate information from the physical exam or mammography

    • MRI of the breast
  • Request a lab microscopic
    exam of nipple discharge if there is nipple discharge other than breastmilk

  • Request a ductogram X-ray or
    MRI ductogram of the nipples if there is nipple discharge other than

  • Consider a hormonal
    evaluation if the nipple discharge is milky

  • Request a biopsy of tissue
    removed from the suspicious area

What are the different types of

Image-guided biopsies. Those aided
by ultrasound or other imaging techniques, including:

  • Fine needle aspiration
    (FNA). A very fine or thin needle is guided into the suspicious area. A small
    sample of the tissue is removed.

  • Core needle biopsy. A larger
    needle is guided into the lump to remove a small core (cylinder) of tissue.

Surgical biopsy. A surgical
procedure is used to remove all or part of a lump.