Breast tissue varies in consistency (firm or soft). Breasts are hormone sensitive and this is why breasts can become more tender or lumpy during different days of menstrual cycle. Female hormones affect breast tissue. Sometimes hormonal fluctuations can cause lumps to form and naturally disappear. Some women could have small soft lumps during premenstrual period which disappeared just after menstrual period. Women can develop breast lumps at any age and they could be easier identified in older women because breasts tend to get less dense while getting older.
Sometimes breast lump could appear in newborns due to mother’s estrogen. During pre-puberty or puberty girls also can develop lumps in breasts due to “puberty hormonal storms”. In both cases lumps disappear during few months.
Every woman knows how her healthy breasts normally feel and during breast self-exam women could palpate lumps. Most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous) but sometimes breast lump could be the first symptom of breast cancer. Breast lumps can be caused by hormones, infections, trauma or cancer. The only way to be certain that breast lump doesn’t contain cancerous cells is biopsy with following laboratory tests.
Breast lumps causes
Several breast conditions could cause breast lumps development:
Usually breast lump is painless. Women often worry about breast pain without knowing that most women with breast pain don’t have breast cancer. Pain is unpleasant but in most cases, it could mean absence of cancerous cells.
Inverted nipple is a condition in which the nipple is pulled inward into the breast instead of pointing outward. Breast lump combined with unexpected sudden inverted nipples can be warning sign of breast cancer.
Nipple discharge that occurs without the nipple being touched can be a sign of several breast conditions including intraductal papilloma, ductal ectasia and breast cancer.
Breast skin can be changed during few breast diseases. Breast skin redness and warmth can be a sign of specific type of breast cancer called “Paget disease of the breast”. During mastitis breast skin has typical red inflamed color combined with severe pain. Most breast inflammations and rashes are triggered by benign transformations.
Breast lumps – when to visit your doctor
If you found lump in your breast,
If breast lumps did not disappear after menstrual cycle,
If you noted suddenly appeared inverted nipple on one side,
If breast skin change color and appearance (red skin, orange-like skin, wrinkled skin),
If you notice nipple discharge (bloody, brown, milky).
Breast lumps – diagnostic tests
Manual breast examination – it is the first step of breast lump evaluation; lump location and size can be clarified; breast skin and nipple condition can be protocoled;
Mammography – mammogram is special breast X-ray which can identify breast abnormalities including breast cancer (in 90%); it can also clarify location and sizes;
Breast ultrasound – it can distinguish between breast cyst and solid lump, measure sizes and demonstrate tumor texture;
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – it is pretty reliable method of diagnosis which provides comprehensive information about breast lumps including info about cancerous or non-cancerous cells existence; MRI is recommended if results of mammography and ultrasound evaluations are not conclusive;
Breast lump biopsy (fine-needle aspiration biopsy or vacuum-assisted biopsy or surgical biopsy) – it is a procedure which includes breast tissue (lump) sample removal and following microscopic analysis.
Breast lumps – treatment
Breast lumps treatment strategy depends on causes. Treatments can be very different starting from anti-inflammatory and hormonal methods and finishing with mastectomy with following chemotherapy and radiation. Earlier treatment starts, better results could be achieved.
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.