A breast lump is a swelling in the breast, tender or nontender that feels different from the normal tissue of the breast. There are many reasons for breast lumps and majority of them are not cancerous. The causes include infection, cysts, fat, abscesses, necrosis, or fibrocystic masses.
If you feel a breast lump you should have it evaluated as soon as possible. Breast lumps may be present in both males and females, but they are much more common among females.
A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac in the breast. It is non-cancerous. Some cyst may not be tender while others are painful.
Breast cysts may be sebaceous cysts. These lumps do not usually need treatment, but if they become painful, they can be removed.
A breast lump that is suspected to be a tumor usually has an irregular shape that is immobile, stuck to the skin or feels like it’s located in the deep tissue of the breast.
Some malignant breast masses are painful, especially when they are large, if they compress other structures in the breast, or if they grow through the skin.
Breast cancer may bring about painless breast lumps, nipple discharge, and signs of inflammation of the skin of the breast. Sometimes, there may not be any symptoms.
Breast cancer may cause no pain in the breast. There may be skin changes in the breast, such as redness and warmth.
When you visit your doctor to report a breast lump, they will probably ask you questions about when you discovered the lump, and if you have any other symptoms. They will also perform a physical exam of the breasts.
The diagnostic assessments may additionally include:
- A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that helps identify breast abnormalities.
- An ultrasound is a non-invasive, painless procedure that uses sound waves to produce images of your breast.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to take detailed pictures of your breast.
- Biopsy. This is a procedure to remove a sample of tissue for analysis under a microscope.
Treatment will depend on the cause of the breast lump. A biopsy may be obtained when the doctor strongly suspects cancer.