A Young Woman’s Guide To Breast Surgery

Lumps and bumps and other things

So you’ve got your results through but what on earth do they mean? Here’s a guide to the most common findings:

A cyst, sometimes called “fibrocystic breasts” if there are a lot of them, is a small fluid-filled lump. It’s just like a blister but it’s inside rather than outside and can occur anywhere in the body. They are often caused by ill-fitting bras or taking the pill but sometimes they can just spring up unexpectedly without any particular cause. Quite frequently cysts will go away by themselves but some need a little help in dispersing. If you are found to have a cyst, it will probably be drained. This is carried out using the same kind of needle as the FNA and is done as an outpatient procedure. It only takes a few seconds but can be a bit uncomfortable.

Sometimes cysts can return and they may make your breasts feel tender. If this is the case, you may like to try a natural therapy like Evening Primrose oil, which has been shown to help ease breast pain in a lot of cases.

A fibroadenoma is one of the most common causes of breast lump. It’s a small, hard, benign lump in the breast believed to be caused by an overgrowth of breast tissue. It rarely causes any pain and is usually less than 3.5cm in size. There’s not much you can do to prevent a fibroadenoma but they’re very easy to treat through a lumpectomy. Occasionally fibroadenomas can return in which case further surgery will be needed.

Phyllodes tumour *
A Phyllodes tumour is an extremely rare tumour of the breast. It feels very similar to a fibroadenoma but, unlike a fibroadenoma, can grow very large very quickly. There have been reports of these tumours causing pain and although they are mostly benign, very occasionally they can turn malignant. It is not known what causes them but they are usually treated through a wide local excision. Occasionally phyllodes tumours can return and further surgery will be needed.

Calcifications show up as little white flecks under ultrasound and can’t often be felt through a physical examination. They can be benign but equally they can also be a sign of DCIS (ducal carcinoma in situ), which is a common type of breast cancer with a high cure rate. An FNA should be able to determine whether you have a benign calcification or not.

Hyperplasia literally means hyperactive cells or “busy breasts”. This means the cells inside your boob are multiplying very quickly and it can put you at a higher risk of developing breast cancer in later life. It might show up on your results as epithelial hyperplasia, ductal hyperplasia or lobular hyperplasia depending on which cells are overactive. If you are diagnosed with this condition, you should expect ultrasound scans and FNAs at least once a year to keep an eye on things.


Breast cancer is extremely rare in young women but there’s no point brushing it under the carpet because it can and does still happen. If you are diagnosed with any form of breast cancer, you will be called back to the hospital for treatment immediately and should be allocated your own Breast Care Nurse so you can discuss any concerns.


* For more details about Phyllodes Tumours

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