Breast Lumps and Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

General Article

A lump in your breast could be due to the growth of abnormal cells within normal tissues. If you have experienced lumps or a lump in the breast, you might feel in many ways. Normally, feeling breast lumps is more like a feeling of fullness for thickening of the breast, which is unusual.

You may also feel a lump as swelling or some abnormal cell growth when you self-examine your breasts.

The following are the symptoms you may feel after self-examining your breast. If you feel any of the symptoms, you must see a doctor.

  • You may feel a lump as a firm/hard or solid area within your breast or nearby your armpit.
  • It may be a distinct lump or abnormal growth within distinct borders of your breast.
  • You may experience that one of your breasts is a little larger or smaller than the other.
  • Inward pulling of nipple could also be a symptom
  • You may also notice a change in the complexion of the affected breast.
  • The affected area of your breast may be different from its surrounding areas
  • Redness or dimpling of breast skin could also be a symptom
  • Persistent pain in a breast during the menstrual period, tenderness of a breast

Common Causes of Breast Lumps

Although not all women with breast cancer have lumps in their breasts, a lump in your breast should never be ignored because it may be due to

  • Breast cancer
  • Fibrocystic breast
  • The growth of benign fatty tissue or tumor
  • Cyst of a breast may also be present as a breast lump, where the cyst is a fluid-filled sac
  • Intra-ductal papilloma
  • Trauma to breast
  • Galactocele for milk cyst
  • Inflammation of breast tissue

Well, a lump in your breast may be due to any of the above-mentioned causes; however, you must not ignore a breast lump, as it may actually be due to breast cancer.

You must self-examine your breast at least once a month. You can ask your doctor or check online how to do it.

you must consult your doctor without delay in case you not there is any of the below-mentioned symptoms.

  • In case of sudden appearance of a breast lump
  • In case the breast lump persists for 4 to 6 weeks
  • In case the breast lump seemed to be fixed to underlying breast tissue
  • If you notice any discharge from breast
  • If you notice a change in skin color or redness dimpling tipping or hardening of the breast skin
  • If you noticed your nipple turned inward
  • If you experience the enlargement of lump to your armpit

One important point here to know is that even if you have none of the symptoms mentioned above, you should not ignore a breast lump.

You need to make it a rule of thumb that if you notice a breast lump, you must take it seriously and consult your doctor without any delay.

Breast Lumps Treatments

Although fibrocystic breast changes do not require treatment, your doctor may still recommend things to help relieve tenderness. Simple cysts can be easily treated through biopsy and you don’t need a surgery at all.

In this treatment method, a small needle is used to extract some cells from the affected part of the breast lump. In case the lump is found to be a cyst, the doctor can suck out the fluid and the cyst will collapse automatically. Although cysts can go away on their own, your doctor may want to wait for sometime before taking any further step.

However, Intraductal Papilloma and Fibroadenomas Papilloma may require surgical removal.

Breast Lumps May also Mean Infection

A painful lump with or without redness may also be a sign of an infection. Mastitis is a common infection found in most breastfeeding moms. The common cause of mastitis is a bacteria that enters the mammary ducts through the nipple.

This infection happens in small pockets and you may feel warm lumps and tender breasts etc. You may try hot shower over your breasts to get relief. A warm compress may also be helpful in this case. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic.

What You Should Do if You Find a Breast Lump

As soon as you discover or experience a lump in your breast, you must see a doctor. Based on the findings, the doctor should examine

  • If an area on your breast is different from other areas on any of the breasts
  • If the size or shape of a breast is different from the other
  • If a marble-like lump is under the skin
  • If there is a lump under the skin, which feels small as a Pea
  • If a clear or bloody fluid is coming out of any of the nipples
  • Red skin on the breast or nipple
  • If there is a change in the skin on the nipple or breast or how it looks – inflamed, dimpled, or scaly

How to Keep Your Breasts Healthy?

As soon as you turn 20, your doctor may give you a breast exam in which you have to feel your breast tissues for unusual changes if any. Gynecologist and American Congress of obstetricians recommend a clinical breast exam 1 to 3 years starting at the age of 20.

You must get a mammogram as you get older, as it is best to talk with your doctor about the right time. As per the American Cancer Society, women starting at 45 years of age should get yearly mammograms, whereas those who are between the ages 40 and 44 have the choice to start with yearly mammograms.

If you have crossed 50, then you have the choice to go for a mammogram every 2 years until the age of 74 years.

If you are at a high risk of breast cancer, you must get a mammogram every year. In fact, you must start with a mammogram at an early age. There are doctors who recommend ultrasound screening and MRI screening; however, you must talk to your doctor about what is best for you.