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Common Breast Conditions in Teens

Puberty is the stage of adolescence when your child begins to develop physically into an adult. During puberty, a girl’s breasts begin to grow. As the breasts develop, problems such as lumps or infections sometimes arise. These problems can be alarming, but they are common and rarely serious.

Cross section side view of breast showing nipple, glands, fat, and chest muscle.

 

Cross section side view of breast showing fibroadenoma, infection, and cysts.

Normal and Nothing to Worry About

Below are some things you or your daughter may be concerned about. But these are not problems. Reassure your daughter that she is perfectly normal.

  • Early or late breast development: The breasts begin to develop at the start of puberty, around age 9 or 10. But this can vary, and some girls develop later or earlier.

  • One breast larger than the other (asymmetry): Girls commonly have one breast that develops faster than the other. It is also common and normal for girls and women to have one breast that is larger than the other. The difference can be as much as a bra cup size or more.

  • Small or large size: Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. There is almost no size that is considered abnormal. If breasts fail to develop at all, or if they are so large they are causing neck or back issues, talk to your daughter’s healthcare provider.

  • Breast pain around periods: It is common for breasts to become tender before or during menstrual periods. This is due to hormone changes and is not a cause for concern. If the pain is severe, your daughter’s healthcare provider can suggest treatment.

Common and Can Be Treated

The following are breast conditions that are fairly common in teens. They cause symptoms that may be worrisome. But they are not serious. In many cases, they don’t even need treatment. Talk to the healthcare provider if your daughter has signs of any of these problems.

  • Fibroadenomas: These are smooth, solid lumps of fibrous tissue in the breasts. They are NOT cancer, and are harmless. Fibroadenomas may come and go around periods. If your daughter has a lump, her healthcare provider can confirm whether it is a fibroadenoma. If the lump is growing in size or is painful, it can be removed.

  • Fibrocystic breast changes: This is the development of fluid-filled sacs in the breasts. They make the breast feel lumpy, tender, or painful. They are NOT cancer. And they don’t make a girl more likely to get breast cancer. Treatment can help relieve symptoms. Reducing the amount of caffeine and fat in the girl’s diet may help. Your daughter’s healthcare provider can discuss other treatment options with you.

  • Infection: Infection is the growth of harmful bacteria. Infection of breast tissue is possible, especially if your daughter is too modest to get a cut or sore on the breast cared for. Symptoms of infection include redness, warmth, red lines on the skin, or tenderness of the skin. Your daughter may also have a fever. If your daughter shows signs of an infection, call a healthcare provider. Treatment with antibiotics may be needed.

 

Call the healthcare provider if your daughter has any of the following:

  • Signs of breast infection

  • Nipple discharge

  • New lumps, or lumps that grow or are painful

  • Breast pain that doesn’t go away with the menstrual cycle

  • No breast development by age 15

 

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