Can Men Have Breast Lumps
Yes. Men can develop a condition called gynecomastia. The male breast becomes enlarged and sometimes tender. A breast lump may also form underneath the nipple. Gynecomastia often occurs in both breasts. This condition can be related to a hormonal imbalance or a side effect of medication, although additional workup may be considered to determine a cause. Most often, a cause is never determined it is called idiopathic.
Men can also develop breast cancer, so if you feel a lump in your breast, see your healthcare provider for an evaluation.
Breast Cancer Cell Growth
Cancer begins when a normal breast cell undergoes a number of mutations in genes that control the growth of the cell. These mutations may occur over a long period of time, even decades, before a cancer cell forms.
A cancer cell must divide on average 30 times before it forms a mass that can be felt in the breast. Since tumor cells multiply and divide exponentiallyone cell becomes two, two cells become four, and so ona tumor will increase more rapidly in size the larger it is.
That said, not all cells are dividing at one time, and growth can be different at different stages in the formation of a tumor. Compared with many types of cancer, breast cancer has a “low growth fraction,” meaning that the proportion of cancer cells that are in an active cell cycle is low.
Some tumors, such as some leukemias and lymphomas, have much higher growth fractions .
What Are The Symptoms Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include swelling and redness that affect a third or more of the breast. The skin of the breast may also appear pink, reddish purple, or bruised. In addition, the skin may have ridges or appear pitted, like the skin of an orange . These symptoms are caused by the buildup of fluid in the skin of the breast. This fluid buildup occurs because cancer cells have blocked lymph vessels in the skin, preventing the normal flow of lymph through the tissue. Sometimes the breast may contain a solid tumor that can be felt during a physical exam, but more often a tumor cannot be felt.
Other symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include a rapid increase in breast size sensations of heaviness, burning, or tenderness in the breast or a nipple that is inverted . Swollen lymph nodes may also be present under the arm, near the collarbone, or both.
It is important to note that these symptoms may also be signs of other diseases or conditions, such as an infection, injury, or another type of breast cancer that is locally advanced. For this reason, women with inflammatory breast cancer often have a delayed diagnosis of their disease.
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When To Talk To A Doctor About Your Lumps
Diagnosing lumps and bumps on your own can be challenging. If you are worried about cancer or have a history of cancer in your family, talk to us about it and we will answer your question: when to worry about a lump under the skin?
- Firm/hard to the touch
- It doesnt move around, fixed to the tissue
- Not tender when touched
- Felt in the breast or groin region
- Grows steadily
- Uneven surface
- New lump
One of my patients, Calla, agreed to share her experience when she presented with a similar complaint.
Diagnosing A Rash On The Breast
If a woman is concerned about a rash on the breast, she should get evaluated by a medical professional immediately.
This often will include a breast exam and special imaging to see if there are any masses associated with the breast rash. Blood tests may also be helpful to determine if there is an elevated white blood cell count, which can often be a sign of infection, Dr. Gross explains.
In some cases, medication may be required. Depending on the results of this initial evaluation, the clinician may prescribe antibiotics and local measures to see if the rash is improved, says Dr. Gross. If breast cancer is suspected, the initial evaluation may include a biopsy to obtain tissue to examine under the microscope to confirm if the rash represents a form of breast cancer.
Dr. Ley agrees that in order to diagnose a rash versus inflammatory breast cancer, its important to have a doctor examine the breast.
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Sometimes we will do a small skin biopsy to further evaluate it, Dr. Ley explains. Its not uncommon though that patients are treated for a week or more with antibiotics, if the redness is not improving then we might start to consider that it could be something besides an infection. A rash does not tend to mimic inflammatory breast cancer.
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What Should I Do If I Find A Lump While Breastfeeding
Breast cancer in women of childbearing age is not common, and lumps found while breastfeeding are likely to be benign. Breast changes while nursing are normal and may include a clogged milk duct or mastitis. However, it is important to report any new lump to your doctor to make sure it is benign and get treatment to help alleviate any discomfort.
Which Breast Lumps Should Women Worry About
Breast lumps are frightening, but fairly common. And while you already know that a lump could potentially signal breast cancer, you’ve probably also heard that most lumps are noncancerous, or benign.
So how can you tell if a breast lump needs to be checked out by a doctor?
“All breast lumps need to be evaluated by a physician, regardless of your age or where in your breast you feel the lump,” says Dr. Joshi. “More often than not, breast lumps are harmless. But, any lump could potentially be breast cancer, and it’s impossible for a woman to determine whether her lump is cancerous or benign just by feeling it.”
That being said, Dr. Joshi says that there are some features that make a lump particularly concerning, including:
- Changes in the skin over the lump
- Nipple changes, including enlargement or bloody discharge
- Changes in the size of the lump
“Additionally, having a family history of breast cancer makes it more likely that a lump could be cancerous,” warns Dr. Joshi.
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What Are Some Common Types Of Benign Breast Lumps
There are many possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps. Two of the most common causes of benign single breast lumps are cysts and fibroadenomas. In addition, several other conditions can present themselves as lumps, such as fat necrosis and sclerosing adenosis. Only your healthcare provider can diagnose your breast lump.
Benign Breast Lumps And Future Cancer Risk
- Women who had a history of benign breast disease are more likely to develop breast cancer than those who have never had any breast disease. According to a 2019 study in the International Journal of Cancer, benign breast disease increases the risk of developing breast cancer in the future, in addition to the risk that a woman may already have due to family history, personal breast cancer history, or a genetic mutation.
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Breast Lipomas Can Be Difficult To Diagnose
Breast lipomas are not always easy to diagnose right away. This can cause an increase in anxiety for possible breast cancer.
The presence of a painless lump in an older, adult woman does have the potential to be breast cancer. Indeed, both mammography and ultrasound are not always able to distinguish breast lipoma from breast carcinoma.
In addition, fine needle biopsies can often lead to confusing diagnostic results. The results may depend on the sample, that is which part of the lipoma the surgeon removes for testing.
Unfortunately, excisional biopsy is a requirement to properly diagnose breast lipoma. Interestingly, only about 11% of breast lipomas present in a classic pattern. On average, about 25% of lipomas are under-diagnosed.
How Are Breast Lumps Treated
Treatment for a breast lump depends on the cause. Some lumps dont require any treatment.
Breast lump treatment includes:
- Antibiotics for a breast infection.
- Fluid drainage for a breast cyst .
- Excisional biopsy to remove a mass .
- Cancer treatment if the lump is biopsy-proven breast cancer. Cancer therapies may include lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
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What To Do If You Find A Lump In Your Left Breast
The majority of breast lumps are not cancerous.
If someone finds a lump in their left breast, they should remain calm. The first step is to work out the characteristics of the lump and look for any other breast changes.
Breast tissue is naturally lumpy, and its textures change with hormones and aging processes. Compare the size, appearance, and texture of both breasts. Evenly dispersed lumps in both breasts usually indicate normal, healthy breast tissue.
Lumps that differ from the surrounding breast tissue may suggest a tumor, which could be cancerous or noncancerous, or another breast condition.
The signs of breast cancer are different for different women. The most common signs are changes in the look or feel of the breast or nipple and nipple discharge.
Look out for the following warning signs of breast cancer:
- a lump that has a different appearance or texture compared with the rest of the breast
- a lump that is hard or painful
- dimpling or puckering of the skin
- a change in the size or shape of the breast
- swelling, warmth, redness, or dark patches on the breast
The sections below discuss several types of breast lump and how to identify them.
The majority of breast lumps are not cancerous. A person may develop one of the following benign breast lumps:
How Your Breast Normally Feels
Texture of breasts can vary from person to person but generally feels firm to fatty with a slight rope-like consistency with minor nodular consistency. The main tissue is fatty and soft. Breast tissue changes through hormone cycles, often becoming swollen and tender during menstrual cycles. As age progresses, breasts increase in fat and often become larger. When irregular lumps form and painful lump in breast becomes an issue, doctor exams will help ensure the tissue remains healthy and disease is avoided.
What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean
Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.
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What Clinical Trials Are Available For Women With Inflammatory Breast Cancer
NCI sponsors clinical trials of new treatments for all types of cancer, as well as trials that test better ways to use existing treatments. Participation in clinical trials is an option for many patients with inflammatory breast cancer, and all patients with this disease are encouraged to consider treatment in a clinical trial.
Descriptions of ongoing clinical trials for individuals with inflammatory breast cancer can be accessed by searching NCIs list of cancer clinical trials. NCIs list of cancer clinical trials includes all NCI-supported clinical trials that are taking place across the United States and Canada, including the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. For information about how to search the list, see Help Finding NCI-Supported Clinical Trials.
People interested in taking part in a clinical trial should talk with their doctor. Information about clinical trials is available from NCIs Cancer Information Service at 18004CANCER and in the NCI booklet Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies. Additional information about clinical trials is available online.
Anderson WF, Schairer C, Chen BE, Hance KW, Levine PH. Epidemiology of inflammatory breast cancer . Breast Diseases 2005 22:9-23.
Where Is Breast Cancer Lumps Usually Found
Breast cancer lumps can develop in any part of the breast or nipple, but they are most common in the upper outer quadrant of the breasts. Lumps on side of the breast are also reported.
Lumps can be found in any breast. Some women may find a lump in the left breast and others may have a lump in the right breast.
Myth : A Lump Is Probably Harmless If There’s No Breast Cancer In Your Family
Many women think they’re not at risk for breast cancer if no one in their family has had it. But that’s not true.
Less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a relative who’s had the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Get all lumps checked by a doctor, whether or not breast cancer runs in your family.
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Myth : If You Feel A Lump Soon After A Mammogram It’s Ok To Wait Another Year
Call your doctor if you notice a lump soon after your latest mammogram, even if the results were normal. Mammograms can miss some cancers, especially if you have dense breast tissue or if the lump is in an awkward location .
“The doctor should only suggest a ‘watch-and-wait’ approach after the appropriate breast imaging has been normal and nothing suspicious can be felt,” Scheer says.
What Are The Causes Of Breast Lumps
Causes of breast lumps include:
- Changes in the breast tissue : Tiny, fluid-filled sacs and fibrous tissue feel like lumps.
- Breast cysts: Fluid-filled sacs form when fluid becomes trapped in the milk ducts. Cysts are common in premenopausal women.
- Fibroadenomas: This benign lump is the most common breast tumor in young women . Fibroadenomas are most common during a persons reproductive years.
- Breast infection: An infection in the breast tissue can cause a lump.
- Breast cancer: A tumor growing in the breast tissue causes a lump.
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What Is A Normal Breast
No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age. For more information, see the National Cancer Institutes Breast Changes and Conditions.external icon
Breast Changes Of Concern
Some breast changes can be felt by a woman or her health care provider, but most can be detected only during an imaging procedure such as a mammogram, MRI, or ultrasound. Whether a breast change was found by your doctor or you noticed a change, its important to follow up with your doctor to have the change checked and properly diagnosed.
Check with your health care provider if your breast looks or feels different, or if you notice one of these symptoms:
- Lump or firm feeling in your breast or under your arm. Lumps come in different shapes and sizes. Normal breast tissue can sometimes feel lumpy. Doing breast self-exams can help you learn how your breasts normally feel and make it easier to notice and find any changes, but breast self-exams are not a substitute for mammograms.
- Nipple changes or discharge. Nipple discharge may be different colors or textures. It can be caused by birth control pills, some medicines, and infections. But because it can also be a sign of cancer, it should always be checked.
- Skin that is itchy, red, scaled, dimpled or puckered
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Always Seek Medical Attention Even During The Coronavirus Pandemic
The key point is that a woman should seek medical attention for any concerning lumps in her breasts, says Harold Burstein, MD, PhD, a breast oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center.
Simple imaging techniques, such as a mammogram or breast ultrasound, can usually provide reassurance that the breast lump is benign. If necessary, a breast MRI or biopsy can be used to evaluate whether the lump is cancerous.
What Is Sclerosing Adenosis
Sclerosing adenosis is excess growth of tissues in the breast’s lobules. This often causes breast pain. While these changes in the breast tissue are very small, they may show up on mammograms as calcifications and can make lumps. Usually a biopsy is needed to rule out cancer. In addition, because the condition can be mistaken for cancer, the lumps are usually removed through surgical biopsy.
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What Happens At An Appointment For A Breast Lump
If you feel a lump or anything unusual in your breast, see your healthcare provider. Heres what you can expect at the initial appointment:
- Health history: Your healthcare provider asks you about your symptoms, medical history and family history.
- Breast exam : These imaging scans provide detailed views of the breast.
- Discussion about other tests you might need: Your healthcare provider may want to examine the lump further.