What Do Breast Lumps Feel Like
The feel of a breast lump depends on its cause, location, and growth. They can vary greatly from painful, hard, and immobile to soft, painless, and easily moveable.
According to BreastCancer.org, lumps are most likely to be cancerous if they do not cause pain, are hard, unevenly shaped, and immobile.
Fibroadenoma lumps tend to be painless, easily movable, smooth, rounded and can disappear on their own. Breast cysts are smooth but firm. Breast abscesses and mastitis usually cause painful, swollen lumps, and are often accompanied by a fever and or redness around the affected skin.
Most early breast cancers are diagnosed on screening mammograms before a lump can be felt. Mammograms are an effective method for detecting breast cancer. However, mammograms do not detect breast cancer 100 percent of the time.
The most difficult part of early detection is that changes and symptoms might or might not occur. That is why regular screening is so important.
Keeping Personal Health Records
You and your doctor should work together to develop a personalized follow-up care plan. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your future physical or emotional health. ASCO offers forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan when treatment is completed. At the conclusion of active treatment, ask your doctor to provide you with a treatment summary and a survivorship care plan.
This is also a good time to talk with your doctor about who will lead your follow-up care. Some survivors continue to see their oncologist, while others transition back to the care of their family doctor, another health care professional, or a specialized survivorship clinic. This decision depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, side effects, health insurance rules, and your personal preferences.If a doctor who was not directly involved in your cancer care will lead your follow-up care, be sure to share your cancer treatment summary and survivorship care plan forms with them and with all future health care providers. Details about your cancer treatment are very valuable to the health care professionals who will care for you throughout your lifetime.
The next section in this guide is Survivorship. It describes how to cope with challenges in everyday life after a cancer diagnosis. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Early Detection And Prevention
When it comes to cancer, early detection is important, but so is reducing your risk. There are several healthy lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Stay lean after menopause. Keep a healthy weight and a low amount of body fat. Eating a healthy diet can help.
Get active and sit less. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
Avoid alcohol. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man.
Choose to breastfeed. Try to breastfeed exclusively for six months after giving birth, and continue even when other foods are introduced.
Manage hormones naturally. If you are going through menopause and trying to control the symptoms, try non-hormonal methods before turning to hormone replacement therapy.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get regular breast cancer screening exams. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.
Read Also: What Is A Malignant Neoplasm Of The Breast
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.
When To See Your Doctor
Its important to talk to your physician if you have breast pain from any cause. Even if its not due to cancer, many women find that breast pain decreases their quality of life. In one study,15% of the women experienced breast pain at some time in their life that interfered with work and family activities. So, make sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any suspicious discomfort.
You May Like: How Serious Is Stage 3 Cancer
A Note About Depression
A National Academy of Sciences study found that depression is common in breast cancer patients, and it usually develops in the first three months after diagnosis. A 2015 study quantified this, and found that the rates of severe depression was 36%.
Let your healthcare team know that you’re experiencing stress or sadness, so they can suggest counseling and perhaps medication. Depression is more common in people who have previously experienced depression, but is common in people with no history of depression as well.
The alternative therapies mentioned above can be helpful. With support from other survivors, family, friends, and your healthcare providers, you can get through your breast cancer journey more easily.
What Does Breast Cancer Feel Like
In breast cancer, abnormal genes cause breast cells to grow uncontrollably and not die off as they normally would.
If these cells grow slowly and do not invade other tissues, they cause benign tumors. These lumps are not usually dangerous to health.
When abnormal cells grow more rapidly and begin to invade surrounding tissues, they form cancerous tumors. These lumps pose a serious risk and can spread, creating new tumors throughout the body.
According to BreastCancer.org, 1 in 8 women in the United States will experience invasive breast cancer over their lifetime. Researchers estimate that in 2018, over 266,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the U.S. Approximately 40,920 women are expected to die of the disease in 2018 in the U.S.
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in American women, accounting for about 30 percent of new cancer cases in 2017. Men face a much lower risk, and the lifetime risk in the U.S is around 1 in 1,000.
Also Check: What Happens If I Have Breast Cancer
Does Breast Cancer Affect Women Of All Races Equally
All women, especially as they age, are at some risk for developing breast cancer. The risks for breast cancer in general arent evenly spread among ethnic groups, and the risk varies among ethnic groups for different types of breast cancer. Breast cancer mortality rates in the United States have declined by 40% since 1989, but disparities persist and are widening between non-Hispanic Black women and non-Hispanic white women.
Statistics show that, overall, non-Hispanic white women have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women of any other race/ethnicity. The incidence rate for non-Hispanic Black women is almost as high.
Non-Hispanic Black women in the U.S. have a 39% higher risk of dying from breast cancer at any age. They are twice as likely to get triple-negative breast cancer as white women. This type of cancer is especially aggressive and difficult to treat. However, it’s really among women with hormone positive disease where Black women have worse clinical outcomes despite comparable systemic therapy. Non-Hispanic Black women are less likely to receive standard treatments. Additionally, there is increasing data on discontinuation of adjuvant hormonal therapy by those who are poor and underinsured.
In women under the age of 45, breast cancer is found more often in non-Hispanic Black women than in non-Hispanic white women.
What Causes Breast Lumps And Pain
Many possible causes exist for pain or tenderness in one of your breasts or in both breasts. Most often the pain can be attributed to harmless causes such as puberty or pregnancy. It can also be a recurrent problem for women with cyclical pain associated with the menstrual cycle. Although cancer is a major concern for most women, it is rarely the cause of isolated breast pain.
Some causes of breast pain are:
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Breast cancer
If you have a lump in your breast, your doctor will check for the following:
Don’t Miss: Breast Cancer Stage 4 Treatment
What Does A Tumor Feel Like Under The Skin
Lumps, tumors and all sorts of things one can feel in the breast can feel surprisingly similar: firm, as opposed to the normal, more spongy tissue of the breast. They are often irregularly shaped as opposed to a sphere or ball shape. Lumps are also usually mobile within the breast, and can be moved around within the breast.
However, its important to note that this can vary from person to person. Ultimately, anytime you feel something thats different from what your normal breast tissue feels like, or if you notice anything that generally feels unusual, you should speak to her medical team about that.
Emotional Stages Of Breast Cancer
Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
People often experience a wide range of emotions with breast cancer, and these can change with different stages in the journey. What might you or a loved one expect at the time of diagnosis, during treatment, and on to survivorship? It’s important to note that every person is different and experiences breast cancer in their own unique way. That said, it can be comforting to know you’re not alone with some of the feelings you have feelings that may have left you feeling isolated and alone. We will highlight some of the emotions and concerns that are common at three important times in your journey.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Most Common Clinical Manifestation Of Breast Cancer
What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer
There are two different staging systems for breast cancer. One is called anatomic staging while the other is prognostic staging. The anatomic staging is defined by the areas of the body where the breast cancer is found and helps to define appropriate treatment. The prognostic staging helps medical professionals communicate how likely a patient is to be cured of the cancer assuming that all appropriate treatment is given.
The anatomic staging system is as follows:
Stage 0 breast disease is when the disease is localized to the milk ducts .
Stage I breast cancer is smaller than 2 cm across and hasn’t spread anywhere including no involvement in the lymph nodes.
Stage II breast cancer is one of the following:
- The tumor is less than 2 cm across but has spread to the underarm lymph nodes .
- The tumor is between 2 and 5 cm .
- The tumor is larger than 5 cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm .
Stage III breast cancer is also called “locally advanced breast cancer.” The tumor is any size with cancerous lymph nodes that adhere to one another or to surrounding tissue . Stage IIIB breast cancer is a tumor of any size that has spread to the skin, chest wall, or internal mammary lymph nodes .
Stage IV breast cancer is defined as a tumor, regardless of size, that has spread to areas away from the breast, such as bones, lungs, liver or brain.
Fatigue Prior To Treatment
Several studies have now shown that women with breast cancer complain of fatigue even before the start of treatment., Ancoli-Israel et al. found that women diagnosed with breast cancer had increased fatigue, disturbed sleep, and increased daily dysfunction before the start of chemotherapy, and that those patients with fatigue, poor sleep, and depression pre-chemotherapy experienced more fatigue and poor quality of life during chemotherapy than women with fewer pre-treatment symptoms. These data suggest that fatigue is not just a result of radiation or chemotherapy, but rather is multifactorial.
Also Check: Cancer Stage 3a
What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast pain can be a symptom of cancer. If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are
- New lump in the breast or underarm .
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Breast Cancer And Your Sexuality
Having breast cancer and its treatment can affect the way you feel about your body, who you are, your relationships, the way you express yourself sexually and your sexual feelings . These changes can be very upsetting.
Your medical team should discuss these issues with you before and during your treatment. If you feel you would like to discuss things further, ask your doctor for a referral to a counsellor or speak to a cancer nurse on the Cancer Council Information and Support Service . The Cancer Council Victoria booklet called Sexuality, intimacy and cancer may also be helpful to read.
Cancer Council Victoria also provides cancer patients with a psychosexual counselling service, for those with concerns about body image, intimacy, sexual confidence or relationships after cancer. The free sessions are held with an experienced medical practitioner with a speciality in psychosexual oncology.
Also Check: Youngest Age To Have Breast Cancer
When To Call Your Doctor
Although cancer-related fatigue is a common side effect of cancer and its treatments, you should mention any of your concerns to your doctor. There are times when fatigue may be a clue to an underlying medical problem. Other times, there may be things your doctor can do to help control fatigue.
Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know if you have:
- Shortness of breath
- Anxiety or nervousness
When You Are First Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a life-threatening disease that requires rigorous treatment. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you, your family, and friends will be experiencing waves of emotion .
Just as your diagnosis may differ from those of other people with breast cancer, your emotional experience may also differ. Knowing what other survivors have experienced and getting help early in the process can be helpful in navigating your way through this experience.
You may not have all of these emotions, but it’s normal to have a range of emotions as you progress through treatment. Here are some emotional states that are similar to Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief:
- Denial and shock
Also Check: Her2 Negative Cancer
The Downside Of Mammograms
Mammography has been the medical industrys gold standard breast cancer screening tool for nearly four decades, and the procedure has been pushed on women with great zeal by physicians, public health programs, and cancer organizations. However, mounting scientific evidence indicates that mammography may not only be far less effective than we have been led to believe, but that it also has numerous drawbacks that are affecting women on a massive scale. Read on to learn about the major drawbacks of mammography, what the research recommends for breast cancer screening, and about promising breast cancer detection alternatives.
Other Causes Of Pain And Tenderness
We often associate pain with something wrong, so when people feel tenderness or pain in their breast, they often think of breast cancer. But breast pain is rarely the first noticeable symptom of breast cancer. Several other factors can cause the pain.
Clinically known as mastalgia, breast pain can also be caused by the following:
- the fluctuation of hormones caused by menstruation
Don’t Miss: Is Breast Cancer Considered Internal Cancer
What Are The 6 Symptoms Of Breast Lumps And Pain
- Breast lump: Although alarming when you find one, most breast lumps are not cancer.
- Breast pain: Most commonly associated with fibrocystic changes, pain may occur in both breasts, though one may be more painful than the other. With fibrocystic changes, the pain occurs about a week before your menstrual period. The pain usually goes away gradually with the onset of your period.
- Cyclic breast pain is typically most severe before your period and gets better during your period.
- It is usually described as bilateral , in the upper outer areas of your breast, and is often associated with lumpiness.
- Women tend to describe this pain as dull, aching, heavy, or sore, and it can radiate to your armpit or even down your arm.
- The intensity of pain can vary widely with the range of severity from mild to severe enough to limit clothing selections, sleep positions, or hugging.