Breast Conditions That Arent Cancer
Breast symptoms including lumps, swelling, and nipple discharge are all possible symptoms of breast cancer, but more often they are symptoms of breast conditions that are benign not cancer. Help keep your breasts healthy by paying attention to how they normally look and feel and let your health care provider know about any changes.
These 5 benign breast conditions often need no treatment, but some do. And some are linked with a higher risk for getting breast cancer later on.
Breast Pain: 10 Reasons Your Breasts May Hurt
Most women experience some form of breast pain at one time or another. Breast pain is typically easy to treat, but on rarer occasions it can be a sign of something more serious.
Medical director of the;Suburban Hospital;Breast Center;Pamela Wright, M.D., discusses the most common causes of;breast pain , their treatments and when to see a doctor:
Hormones are making your breasts sore.
Hormonal fluctuations are the number one reason women have breast pain. Breasts become sore three to five days prior to the beginning of a menstrual period and stop hurting after it starts. This is due to a rise in estrogen and progesterone right before your period. These hormones cause your breasts to swell and can lead to tenderness.
Its normal to have breast tenderness that comes and goes around the time of your period, says Wright. Its nothing to worry about.
If you become pregnant, your breasts may remain sore during the first trimester as hormone production ramps up. Breast tenderness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy for many women.
Steps you can take to minimize sore breasts include:
Breast Thickening Or Swelling
Breast thickening or swelling may be a sign of breast cancer. Swelling can also occur around your collarbone or armpits. This may be a sign that breast cancer has spread to your lymph nodes. Sometimes, patients notice breast swelling without ever noticing a lump. Thickening or swelling may cause a noticeable change in the size or shape of your breasts. Thickening or swelling may occur in one breast, or in both.
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If You Experience Pain Along With Any Of The Following Symptoms You Should Contact Your Physician
- Bloody or clear discharge from your nipple
- A new lump with the onset of the pain; lump does not go away after your menstrual period
- Persistent, unexplained breast pain
- Signs of a breast infection, including local redness, pus, or fever
- Redness of the skin of the breast that may appear as a rash, with dilated pores, and possibly skin thickening.
Does Pain In The Breast Mean Cancer
Breast pain, also known as Mastalgia, is not at all uncommon in women. Most will have it at some point in their lives. In women under 30, the pain is usually associated with their monthly cycle. Older women are likely to have more consistent breast pain. The majority of the time, this pain is benign .
Lumps in the breast that are cancerous are usually not painful. Benign lumpslike fibroadenomas and those from fibrocystic breast diseaseare more often the ones that cause pain. Fluid-filled cysts are also not malignant and may cause pain. While inflammatory breast cancer can cause pain, it is rare and is also accompanied by redness and inflammation, as well as a breast that is warm to the touch.
In addition to the benign lumps that may cause pain in the breast, there are many other causes. Hormone changes from puberty, pregnancy and menopause may cause breast pain. Even the hormonal fluctuation of a menstrual cycle can bring on breast pain. Discomfort can even be brought on by an ill-fitting bra or not wearing a sports bra during exercise. An injury to the breast can also be painful.
In the Chest
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Itchy Breast Redness And Pain
The American Cancer Society mentions that while the most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump, other possible symptoms include skin irritation and dimpling, as well as redness, scaliness or thickening of the breast skin.1
Its common for breasts to be sore and sensitive during menstruation, but this symptom could mean something more serious if you have sore breasts sensitivity that persists after that period. There may also be swelling involved with skin that is warm to the touch, indicating the less common forms of inflammatory breast cancer.
It is worth noting that it is rare that breast pain or sore breasts after period is a sign of cancer. Doctors from Harvard Medical School say that sore tender breasts are usually not connected with breast cancer.
Cancer Research UK says that itchy breasts can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, however this is very rare. With this type of cancer, the area of skin over the tumor can become red, inflamed, painful and itchy.2
Inflammatory cancer may also cause swelling and pain in the chest. The skin may look scaly or have small blue marks similar to hemorrhages, somewhat like cellulite holes on the breast.
Doctors on WebMD say that a reddish, pitted surface like the skin of an orange could be a sign of advanced breast cancer. They also mention a marble-like area under the skin or indentation on the breast, which may indicate a tumor that cannot be seen or felt.3
How Is A Breast Infection Diagnosed
In a breastfeeding woman, a doctor can typically diagnose mastitis based on a physical examination and a review of your symptoms. Your doctor will also want to rule out whether the infection has formed an abscess that needs to be drained, which can be done during the physical exam.
If the infection keeps coming back, breast milk may be sent to a laboratory to determine what bacteria might be present.
Other tests may be necessary to determine the cause if you have a breast infection and youre not breastfeeding. Testing may include a mammogram or even a biopsy of breast tissue to rule out breast cancer. A mammogram is an imaging test that uses low-energy X-rays to examine the breast. A breast biopsy involves the removal of a small tissue sample from the breast for lab testing to determine if any cancerous cell changes are present.
If you dont already have a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
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What Causes Breast Pain In Women
Many things can cause pain or tenderness in your breasts, including:
- Hormone changes during your period. This is the most common cause of breast pain.
- Water retention, which may happen during your period.
- Injury to your breast.
- Pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.
- Breastfeeding .
- An infection in the breast.
- Some medicines.
- Breast cancer .
- Surgery from a biopsy, breast reduction , or a mastectomy .
- During a mammogram, your breast will be compressed, which can be uncomfortable. The discomfort lasts only a few moments.
If you have breast pain that lasts a long time or keeps coming back, talk to your doctor.
Myth 5: Nipple Discharge Is Usually A Sign Of Cancer
No, the opposite is true. Many women have leftover milk in their ducts after breastfeeding, or they have debris that can cause greenish or even black discharge that can be squeezed out of the ducts, Dr. Pederson says.
Whats more concerning is bloody or clear discharge that leaks out when youre not squeezing, she says. This type of discharge can be a sign of breast cancer about 10 percent of the time. Even with bloody nipple discharge, the cause is usually a benign condition inside the milk duct.
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Breast Pain Not Linked To Periods
Its often unclear what causes non-cyclical breast pain.
It can be related to:
- a benign breast condition
- previous surgery to the breast;
- injury to the breast
- having larger breasts;
- a side effect from a drug treatment, such as certain antidepressant drugs and some herbal remedies such as ginseng
Stress and anxiety can also be linked to breast pain.;
Non-cyclical breast pain may be continuous or it may come and go. It can affect women before and after the menopause.;
The pain can be in one or both breasts and can affect the whole breast or a specific area. It may be a burning, prickling or stabbing pain, or a feeling of tightness.;
Non-cyclical breast pain often goes away by itself over time. This happens in about half the women who experience it.
Dont Worry Its The Good Kind Of Breast Cancer Holly Diagnosed At 39
As for me and my good kind of breast cancer, my situation meant I had a slow-growing cancer. I had a lumpectomy on my right breast. The tumor was 1.3 cm. I had four rounds of chemo and then 36 radiation sessions. Ive been on Tamoxifen for six years and am getting ready to celebrate my seventh year survivorversary.
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Shoulder Pain Becomes Breast Cancer
I’m posting on here as I need some help/guidance/advice as I feel at a loss.
My mum has had shoulder pain over the last few months which she has been to the doctors about numerous times. They sent her for X Ray’s and said that they couldn’t see what was wrong but suspected arthritis.;The pain was getting worse and has now spread under her arm so she went back again. The nurse felt her breast and sent her for a mammogram.
On Thursday, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes. This was the result of a biopsy that she’d had. At the minute we don’t know if it has spread any further or what stage it is. All they have said is that the cells are a grade 3 – which I think means the worst and that they are aggressive?
She’s got to go back on Thursday for some more results related to hormones, but I don’t understand what that means. I’m guessing from this they can start the course of treatment.
However she’s got to wait another 12 days for the CT scan to find out if it has spread.
I’m worried that it has because the pain started in her shoulder – so there is a chance it could be in her bones. Has anyone else ever had that?;
I don’t want them to delay the start of the treatment but will that begin after the results of the CT scan which could potentially be a month away or will they start that immediately;on Thursday?
Management Of Breast Or Nipple Pain In Breast Cancer
Pain related to breast cancer may range from mild to severe, or from short episodes to longer-lasting ones,;both;because of the cancer itself and as a result of treatments, such as;surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and other anti-cancer medications. Breast or nipple pain caused by tumors is more common if the disease has spread to other parts of the body. But anyone can experience pain or discomfort following cancer treatments, regardless of the stage of the breast cancer, says;the nonprofit organization breastcancer.org.
You should know that treatment for pain is part of cancer treatment. It is important to resist the still-too-common assumption that because cancer is a serious disease, some level of pain is to be expected. You and your medical team should have a plan in place for treating any pain you may experience before, during, or after your treatment for breast cancer. Most people can get complete relief for their pain or at least significant relief that allows them to enjoy the activities of daily life. It may take some time to find the right combination and types of pain treatment that work best for you, but the effort will be worth it.
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How Is Breast Pain In Women Diagnosed
Your doctor will examine you, ask you to describe your pain, and the location of the pain. He or she may ask you about your health history. During the exam, your doctor will check to see if you have lumps in your breasts.
If youre younger than 30 and dont have a breast lump, your doctor might decide you dont need any tests. If youre older than 30 and dont have a breast lump, your doctor may still want you to get a mammogram and an ultrasound, if youre having pain in a specific area. If you do have a lump in your breast, your doctor might decide you need one or more of these tests:
- A mammogram.This is a special X-ray of the breasts.
- A breast ultrasound.This painless test uses sound waves to make a picture of the lump.
- A breast biopsy.;For this test, some tissue is surgically removed from your breast and looked at under a microscope. The area that is removed is numbed to eliminate pain. Its an outpatient procedure.
Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women.
The most common signs are:
- A change in the look or feel of the breast OR
- A change in the look or feel of the nipple OR
- Nipple discharge
If you have any of the warning signs described below, see a health care provider .
If you dont have a provider, one of the best ways to find a good one is to get a referral from a trusted family member or friend.
If thats not an option, call your health department, a clinic or a nearby hospital. If you have insurance, your insurance company may also have a list of providers in your area.
Learn more;about finding a health care provider.;
In most cases, these changes are not cancer.
One example is breast pain. Pain is more common with benign breast conditions than with breast cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to get it checked.
If the change turns out to be breast cancer, its best to find it at an early stage, when the chances of survival are highest.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
One of the most common signs of breast cancer is a lump, but the presence of a lump can also indicate something benign, like a cyst. Lumps are also typical for some breasts, and often, people who menstruate find their breasts get lumpier due to the hormonal changes.
Its essential to understand what are normal and abnormal changes in your body. For example, hormonal changes are notorious for causing all sorts of changes in our bodies, and some of those changes can present as symptoms of breast cancer.
Regular mammograms are the best ways to detect;breast cancer symptoms, but you can spot some specific signs on your own.
Other Common Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Include:
- Warm, red, irritated and/or itchy breasts. These are among the most common early warning signs of inflammatory breast cancer.
- Nipple discharge. With the exception of breast milk that may leak from breasts during or after pregnancy, any nipple discharge should be checked by a doctor. Clear or bloody discharge may indicate cancer.
- Flat or inverted nipple. If this is unusual for you, have it evaluated by a doctor.
- Scaliness. Healthy breast skin is smooth. If yours is scaly or inflamed, that’s a red flag.
- Changes in skin texture. If you develop a rash, puckering or dimpling on the breast, that could be a sign of breast cancer. Skin changes related to breast cancer may resemble the rough skin of an orange peel.
- Change in breast size or shape. While it’s not uncommon for someone to have one breast that’s larger than the other, any new change in breast size or shape — especially in just one breast — could indicate cancer.
- Lump or swelling around breast, collarbone, or armpit. Swelling or lumps in the areas surrounding your breasts can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes. This may be seen before you can feel a lump in your breast.
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How To Check Your Breasts
Theres no special way to check your breasts and you do not need any training.;
Checking your breasts is as easy as TLC:
- Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
- Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
- Check any new or unusual changes with a GP
Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes.;
Get used to checking regularly and be aware of anything thats new or different for you.
Check your whole breast area, including up to your collarbone and armpits.
Breast Or Nipple Pain
Breast cancer can cause changes in skin cells that lead to feelings of pain, tenderness, and discomfort in the breast. Although breast cancer is often painless, it is important not to ignore any signs or symptoms that could be due to breast cancer.
Some people may describe the pain as a burning sensation.
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Fat Necrosis And Oil Cysts
- Damage to the breast from injury, surgery, or radiation treatment may cause a lump. The skin around it may look thicker, red, or bruised. This condition is more common in women with very large breasts.
- No treatment is needed unless the lump is causing discomfort.
- This condition does not increase breast cancer risk.