A breast lipoma is a benign neoplasm that is represented by fat cells and is enclosed in a dense capsule of connective tissue. Lipoma is most commonly diagnosed in women between the ages of 30 and 50. Men are also susceptible to the formation of this type of tumor, but the lipoma is not located in the thickness of the breast tissue, but in the subcutaneous fatty tissue.
Breast lipomas are often small and grow very slowly. The average size of such a neoplasm is equal to 2 cm, but sometimes it can reach 10 cm in diameter and even more. Although such tumor growth is extremely rare. Lipomas do not hurt, are not adhered to the skin and are quite mobile. However, self-diagnosis is not possible. To clarify the nature of the tumor, you need to contact a specialist.
- Types of breast lipomas
- Causes of breast lipoma
- Breast lipoma symptoms
- Breast lipoma treatment
- Preventive measures
Types of breast lipomas
There are several types of breast lipoma.
Depending on what kind of cells the tumor is represented, there are:
- Myxolipoma - adipose tissue predominates in these tumors, but there are also inclusions of mucus that the lipoma itself produces.
- Fibrolipoma - such a tumor contains very little adipose tissue, but a lot of connective fibers.
- Angiolipoma - in such a tumor, in addition to fat cells, multiple blood vessels are also present.
- Myolipoma - the tumor is dominated not by fat cells, but by muscle fibers.
- Lipofibroma - there are few connective tissues in such tumors, they are mainly represented by fat cells.
Depending on the location of the lipoma, there are:
- Superficial lipomas.
- Intermuscular lipomas.
- Subcutaneous lipomas.
Diffuse and encapsulated tumors are also distinguished. The former do not have clear contours, and the encapsulated neoplasms are limited by the fibrous membrane.
Causes of breast lipoma
As for the causes of breast lipoma, which can be called specific catalysts that give rise to tumor growth, they have not yet been identified by scientists.
Nevertheless, the risk factors that can provoke the development of neoplasms have been identified, including:
- Disorders in the endocrine system.
- Metabolic disease.
- Genetic predisposition.
- Hormonal imbalance in the body.
- Frequent stress.
- A sedentary lifestyle that negatively affects the lymphatic drainage in the mammary gland.
- Errors in nutrition, with a predominance of animal food in the diet.
- Chest injuries of various kinds.
- Alcohol abuse and smoking.
- Multiple childbirth that leads to deformation of the breast tissue.
- Living in environmentally disadvantaged areas.
- X-ray irradiation of the breast.
- Wearing uncomfortable underwear.
Lipoma in the mammary gland is formed when the lumen of the sweat gland is blocked. The resulting cavity is filled with modified fatty tissue. Most domestic scientists are of the opinion that breast lipomas are the result of a hormonal disorder.
The development of lipomas in women who have entered menopause is associated with the so-called metabolic syndrome. Its result is the replacement of the glandular tissue of the mammary gland with adipose and fibrous tissue. This process is the prerequisite for the formation of a tumor.
Breast lipoma symptoms
On palpation of the mammary gland, the tumor can be easily felt, especially if its size reaches several centimeters. As the neoplasm grows, it can be seen by visual inspection. Lipoma looks like a protruding tubercle with a dense consistency. Lipoma of the breast does not hurt, but contact with underwear can cause discomfort.
The tumor is mobile, easily displaces under the skin. The lipoma is not welded to the surrounding tissues, however, after it is slightly shifted to the side and released, it returns to its original place.
When the lipoma is presented by lobules, then when the skin is pulled over it, you can see small depressions.
If the lipoma is located in the deeper layers of tissues, then it will be impossible to see it. As these deep lipomas grow, they can cause pain, as they grow into the muscle fascia and between the muscle fibers.
As a rule, women develop a single tumor, which is most often localized under the skin in the upper quadrant of the breast. The more fibrous cells in the neoplasm, the denser it will be.
To detect a lipoma, the patient needs to contact a mammologist. The doctor palpates the gland, after which he directs the patient for an ultrasound examination.
It can be difficult to make a differential diagnosis during an ultrasound scan, especially in postmenopausal women. The fact is that the mammary gland after 45-50 years almost entirely consists of adipose tissue (the result of age-related changes in the body) and it is not always possible to “consider” in it a pathological neoplasm represented by similar cells. The same statement is valid for mammography.
Therefore, to clarify the diagnosis, a biopsy of tumor tissue may be required, followed by cytological and histological examination of cells. This procedure distinguishes lipoma from liposarcoma or breast cancer. Most experts are convinced that only an aspiration biopsy followed by a histological analysis of the biopsy will make it possible to make a 100% correct diagnosis. Therefore, doctors refer all their patients to undergo this invasive technique.
Breast lipoma treatment
Lipomas of the mammary gland cannot resolve on their own. Conservative therapy in terms of their elimination is also not effective.
Although lipomas do not transform into cancerous tumors, such neoplasms require close attention from a doctor, especially at the stage of diagnosis. If it is confirmed that the tumor is benign and at the same time it is not large, then dynamic observation of the patient is possible. At the same time, a woman will have to undergo an ultrasound of the mammary gland every 4 months and do mammography 1-2 times a year. Also, during each appointment with a mammologist, he will prescribe a referral for the patient to donate blood for the CA-15-13 tumor marker, which allows you to exclude breast cancer.
When a breast lipoma begins to grow rapidly, puts pressure on blood vessels or nerve tissue, it must be removed. An indication for sectoral resection is also a cosmetic defect, because large lipomas can deform the breast. It should be noted that the rapid growth of the lipoma casts doubt on its good quality, so the doctor in this case will insist on surgery.
Lipomas are subject to prompt removal. The main surgical technique is sectoral resection. In this case, the surgeon must be extremely careful not to break the tumor capsule during the procedure, removing it completely. Otherwise, the lipoma will recur.
It is also possible to carry out tumor enucleation (exfoliation) or excisional biopsy (puncture or aspiration). In an excisional biopsy, the entire contents of the tumor are removed using a fine needle that is inserted directly into the tumor. This procedure avoids scars on the breast, but does not remove the tumor capsule itself. Therefore, it cannot be excluded from re-filling.
Laser removal of breast lipoma is one of the modern methods of surgical intervention. The procedure is almost bloodless. The suture is performed accurately, the blood vessels are instantly coagulated. The only drawback of this method is its low prevalence. Often, hospitals in small towns do not have specialized equipment to perform this operation. Therefore, the gold standard at this point in time is the removal of the lipoma with a scalpel.
Prevention of lipoma comes down to the following recommendations:
- Leading a healthy lifestyle, playing sports. It should be remembered that physical inactivity is a factor leading to excess weight gain and further health problems.
Conducting regular breast self-examination in the first week after the end of menstruation. Particularly attentive to the condition of the breast should be those women whose closest blood relatives had lipomas of similar localization.
- Women over the age of 45 should have a mammogram and visit a mammologist once every two years.
If a tumor is found in the mammary gland, it is necessary to seek the advice of a specialist. Lipoma is a benign neoplasm, but it is impossible to distinguish it from breast cancer on its own.
As for the prognosis, it is favorable for breast lipoma. The operation is not required in every case. Moreover, high-quality surgical intervention with complete removal of the neoplasm capsule ensures the absence of recurrence of the disease.
The author of the article: Volkov Dmitry Sergeevich | c. m. n. surgeon, phlebologist
Education: Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry (1996). In 2003 he received a diploma from the Educational and Scientific Medical Center of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation.