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Breast Abnormalities

Identifying Breast Abnormalities

The Breast Health Center at UPMC provides accurate breast testing results and treating a wide variety of breast health issues. Highly advanced imaging technologies help our physicians to recognize breast cancer and serious breast health issues at an early stage, ensuring the best possible outcomes.

If your mammogram came back abnormal, the next step is to determine whether the abnormality is malignant or non-malignant. A malignant diagnosis refers to a cancerous tumor found through a more thorough diagnostic test. A non-malignant diagnosis means the tumor or breast abnormality is not cancerous, but still may be a serious issue.

Some of the diagnostic procedures our breast health specialists use to further diagnose breast abnormalities found in mammograms are:

  • Breast ultrasound (including whole breast ultrasound)
  • Needle localization
  • Diagnostic mammogram

At the Breast Health Center at UPMC, we offer a variety of advanced tests to evaluate breast abnormalities in Williamsport, PA and the surrounding region. For the breast health services you need, Find a Provider.

Contact Us

For more information about breast abnormalities, call 570-326-8200.

I Found a Lump. What Should I Do Next?

It is important to not panic if you discover an abnormality. Many breast irregularities are non-cancerous and put you at a low risk for immediate medical attention. Lumps may sometimes develop from menstrual changes in your body. However, it is very important when you notice these changes to contact your doctor. Do not attempt to self-diagnose.

You should consult your doctor immediately if:

  • You find a breast lump that's new or unusual and feels different from other breast tissue
  • A breast lump seems to have changed — it gets bigger or feels different
  • You have discharge from your nipple
  • You notice skin changes on your breast, such as redness or crusting
  • Dimpling or puckering anywhere on the breast
  • Your nipple suddenly turns inward (inversion)

A Non-Malignant Diagnosis (Non-Cancerous)

There are a variety of other non-cancerous breast health issues and a wide range of severity levels for a breast diagnosis. Your doctor will sit down to review the results with you and discuss options for treatment. Treatments will vary depending on the diagnosis and severity of the breast condition, but UPMC offers a comprehensive selection of breast treatments. Some of the possible conditions that result in a non-malignant diagnosis are:

  • Breast pain (mastalgia): Can either be associated with your menstrual cycle or come from nearby muscles and joints (ranging from minor to severe). Cyclical (menstrual) breast pain is fairly common. Treatments for breast pain will vary according to cause and severity.
  • Benign lumps (cysts, fibroadenoma, fat necrosis, sclerosing adenosis): Non-cancerous masses can form. The most common lump is called a cyst. It is a fluid-filled sac that may feel soft or hard. Fine-needle aspiration may be used to diagnose and treat this condition. Fibroadenomas are solid, smooth and firm lumps commonly found in younger women. They may or may not be removed. Fat necrosis is a painless, round lump, caused by damaged breast tissue or sclerosing adenosis (an excessive growth of tissue in milk glands), resulting in breast pain.
  • Fibrocystic changes: Generalized as lumpiness in the breast. The breast may feel ropy or granular. Researchers and physicians believe it to be part of the natural breast changes women undergo. Lumpiness in the breast can make it harder to recognize cancerous lumps, therefore making regular examinations important.
  • Nipple problems (ectasia, intraductal papilloma, nipple discharge): Ectasia is a normal process involving the dilation of the milk gland; it usually occurs as a woman approaches menopause. Sometimes, this may cause infection in the breast due to increased fluid. Intraductal papilloma is a small, wart-like growth that projects into the breast ducts near the nipple. This can cause nipple discharge that is sticky or bloody. If this becomes an issue, the duct may be surgically removed without changing the breast appearance. Nipple discharge is more of a concern if it occurs when the nipple isn’t squeezed.
  • Breast inflammation and infection (lactational or nonlactational mastitis): Lactational infection occurs when a woman is breastfeeding. The nipples can become cracked and sore during this time, allowing bacteria from the baby’s mouth to enter the ducts. Nonlactational mastitis (infection in nonlactating women) may occur in women who have lumpectomies and radiation therapy, in women with diabetes, or in women with low immune systems.

A Malignant Diagnosis (Breast Cancer)

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, our specialists at The Breast Health Center at UPMC can ease your worries.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer can form in the tissue of the breasts, usually in the ducts (tubes) that carry milk to the nipple and milk-making glands. It can occur in both men and women, but it is more prominent in females. Cancer is when the cells in your body become abnormal and/or divide without control or order. A cancerous tumor is when those rapidly out of control cells form too much tissue.

How did I get breast cancer?

It is difficult to determine exactly why you developed breast cancer, but there are a variety of risk factors that are linked to breast cancer diagnosis. If your family has a history of breast cancer or if you have already had breast cancer, your risk is greatly increased due to genetic makeup. Dense breast tissue, regular benign breast issues, aging, obesity, and a variety of other things may be contributing factors. Check out our comprehensive list of breast cancer risk factors.

What kind of breast cancer do I have?

The most common type of breast cancer begins in the milk ducts and is called ductal carcinoma. Another more common type, lobular carcinoma, occurs in the milk-producing glands. Less common types of cancer include Paget’s disease, inflammatory breast cancer, and triple negative breast cancer.

What is the next step?

Your doctor will sit down to explain the positive test results with you and share possible treatment options for your breast cancer. They will give you all the information you need to stay informed and make sure you see the correct physicians and receive the best medication.

UPMC's Breast Health Center offers advanced testing, diagnosis and treatment for breast abnormalities in Williamsport, Pa. and the surrounding areas.