Breast lumps are a common concern for women of all ages. The vast majority of breast lumps are not cancerous, but it's essential to diagnose breast cancer early if a lump is cancerous. The early diagnosis of breast cancer is critical for the best outcome. In this article, we will discuss breast lumps, the different types of lumps, and how they are evaluated.
Symptoms of Breast Lumps
Breast lumps can be found through breast self-examination, which is an essential tool for women. You should examine your breasts monthly and contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any of the following:
- A lump or swelling in your breast or underarm area
- Changes in the size or shape of your breast
- Nipple discharge or retraction
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Pain in one spot that does not go away
Types of Breast Lumps
There are different types of breast lumps, and they can be classified into two broad categories: cystic and solid.
Cystic Breast Lumps
Cystic breast lumps are fluid-filled sacs in the breast tissue. Cysts can vary in size from microscopic to larger than an inch in diameter. These lumps are common and not cancerous. If a cyst is causing discomfort, it can be drained using a small needle under local anesthesia in your doctor's office. If the fluid is bloody, a sample is sent for further testing. In most cases, breast cysts don't require any treatment.
Solid Breast Lumps
Solid breast lumps are composed of breast tissue and are not filled with fluid. Fibrocystic lumps are the most common type of solid breast lumps. They are caused by hormonal changes and may be tender and painful. Fibrocystic lumps can be felt as small, smooth lumps, but they can also be larger, solid lumps that may be difficult to distinguish from cancerous lumps. Other types of solid breast lumps may be noncancerous or cancerous.
Evaluation of Breast Lumps
If you find a breast lump, your healthcare provider will evaluate it to determine whether it is cancerous or noncancerous. A physical examination and imaging tests such as mammogram and ultrasound are typically used to evaluate breast lumps.
Your healthcare provider will conduct a physical examination to determine the size and location of the lump, as well as its texture and whether it moves easily. They may also check for nipple discharge and swollen lymph nodes in your armpit.
Mammogram and ultrasound are the most common imaging tests used to evaluate breast lumps. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue, while an ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the breast tissue. If the imaging tests are inconclusive or indicate the need for further evaluation, a biopsy may be recommended.
Breast lumps are a common concern for women, but the majority are noncancerous. It's essential to report any changes in your breast tissue to your healthcare provider immediately. You can also conduct breast self-examination to check for any lumps or abnormalities. Early detection of breast cancer is essential for the best outcome. If you notice any changes, don't hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider.