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Breast Cancer

Radial Scars and Some Other Non-cancerous Breast Conditions

These are some of the less common types of benign (non-cancerous) tumors and conditions that can be found in the breast.

Radial scars

Radial scars are also called complex sclerosing lesions. They’re most often found when a breast biopsy is done for some other purpose. Sometimes radial scars show up as a distortion of the normal breast tissue on a mammogram.

Radial scars are not really scars, but they look like scars when seen with a microscope. They don't usually cause symptoms, but they are important because:  

  • If they are large enough, they may look like cancer on an imaging test such as a mammogram, or even on a biopsy.       
  • They seem to be linked to a slight increase in a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Doctors often recommend surgery to remove radial scars, but in some cases they can use imaging tests instead to watch for any concerning changes.

Other breast changes that are not cancer

Other types of benign masses and other changes can also be found in the breast. Many of these are described on other Non-cancerous Breast Conditions pages.

Some types of benign breast changes that are not covered on those pages are listed below. None of these conditions raise breast cancer risk, but they may need to be biopsied or removed to know what they are and to be sure they don’t have any cancer cells in them.             

  • Lipoma: a fatty tumor that can appear almost anywhere in the body, including the breast. It is usually not painful.
  • Hamartoma: a smooth, painless lump formed by the overgrowth of mature breast cells, which can be made up of fatty, fibrous, and/or gland tissues       
  • Hemangioma: a rare tumor made up of blood vessels
  • Hematoma: a collection of blood within the breast caused by internal bleeding       
  • Adenomyoepithelioma: a very rare tumor formed by certain cells in the milk duct walls  
  • Neurofibroma: a tumor that’s an overgrowth of nerve cells
  • Granular cell tumor: a tumor that starts in early forms of Schwann cells, which normally surround and help insulate nerve cells. These tumors rarely start in the breast.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Lv M, Zhu X, Zhong S, et al. Radial scars and subsequent breast cancer risk: A meta-analysis. PLoS ONE. 2014:9(7):e102503.

Matrai C, D'Alfonso TM, Pharmer L, et al. Advocating nonsurgical management of patients with small, incidental radial scars at the time of needle core biopsy: A study of 77 cases. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2015;139:1137-1142.

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Last Revised: January 25, 2022

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