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How Many Breast Lumps Are Cancer

Does A Benign Breast Condition Mean That I Have A Higher Risk Of Getting Breast Cancer

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Benign breast conditions rarely increase your risk of breast cancer. Some women have biopsies that show a condition called hyperplasia . This condition increases your risk only slightly.

When the biopsy shows hyperplasia and abnormal cells, which is a condition called atypical hyperplasia, your risk of breast cancer increases somewhat more. Atypical hyperplasia occurs in about 5% of benign breast biopsies.

Why Does Breast Density Matter

Dense breasts make it harder for radiologists to detect breast cancers when they read a mammogram. Cancers typically show up as small white spots or masses on a mammogram. Dense breast tissue also appears white on a mammogram. Small areas of cancer can hide behind the dense tissue, and its challenging to tell the difference between normal, healthy tissue and abnormal growths. The organization DenseBreast-info.org compares it to trying to see a snowman in a blizzard. Fatty breast tissue appears dark on a mammogram, so areas of concern that show up white are much easier to see.

Mammograms can miss about half of cancers in women with dense breasts.3, 4 In addition, women with dense breasts are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer within the year after receiving a normal mammogram result, usually based on symptoms such as a lump or other breast changes.

Apart from hiding cancers on mammograms, dense breast tissue itself is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Doctors arent sure exactly why. Cancers develop in glandular tissue: the more glandular tissue there is, the greater the risk. Fibrous tissue may also produce growth factors that cause glandular tissue cells to divide and reproduce more than cells in fatty tissue do. Every time a cell divides, there is an opportunity for a mistake in the DNA to occur in the new cells and multiple mistakes can eventually result in cancer.

Breast Cancer Doubling Time

An important way to think about how fast a breast cancer grows is by looking at what’s called the volume doubling time. Growth rate is a part of tumor doubling time, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is the amount of time it takes for a tumor to double in size.

It would be unethical to leave a cancer untreated to see how rapidly it will grow, so researchers estimate the doubling time. However, when looking at these models, it becomes clear that doubling time estimates vary from study to study.

A 2018 study estimated doubling time by looking at serial ultrasounds in 265 people with invasive breast cancer to see if there were differences among breast cancer subtypes. These images were taken between diagnosis and surgery. The results suggest that growth varied significantly based on the breast cancer subtype and the role of estrogen receptors in those subtypes.

During an average interval of 57 days, 36% of tumors did not change in size, while 64% grew. Of those tumors that increased in size, the average gain in volume was 34.5%. Tumors that were triple negative had greater increases in volume and shorter doubling times than those that were estrogen receptor positive and HER2 negative tumors.

A similar 2016 study looked at growth in 323 people, based on ultrasound images taken between diagnosis and surgery over a 31 day period, On average, the tumors grew from 1.47 centimeters to 1.56 cm in diameter. The daily growth rate based on type was:

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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.

Breast Lumps In Teenagers

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It can be normal to feel lumps when your breasts are developing and these often disappear on their own.

If a lump causes you any discomfort, appears to get bigger or youre worried about it, talk to someone such as your GP. You may also want to talk to someone in your family or a school nurse.

Although its very unlikely that theres anything wrong, a doctor can check it out and should put your mind at rest. You can ask to see a female doctor or the practice nurse if this will make you feel more comfortable.

Very occasionally lumps are a sign of a benign breast condition. Benign means harmless, and a benign condition will not become a breast cancer. The most common benign lump as the breasts are developing is known as a fibroadenoma.

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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider About A Breast Lump

Breast tissue is naturally lumpy. If the lumpiness feels like the rest of your breast, or like your other breast, you probably dont need to worry. Call your healthcare provider if you notice:

  • An unusual lump or mass in your breast or under your arm that feels harder than the rest of the breast or is different on one side as compared to the other.
  • Other breast changes including nipple inversion , dimpled skin, or bloody/clear nipple discharge.
  • Redness, pain or focal tenderness in your breast.
  • Nipple changes such as excoriation or scaling.

Breast lumps have many causes. Most of the time, theyre not cancer. If you feel a breast lump or any other change in your breast, talk to your healthcare provider. They can figure out the cause of the lump and if you need treatment. Dont put off taking care of your breast health. If the lump is cancer, treatment is most successful if started early.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/14/2021.

References

Myth : A Breast Lump Is Probably Cancer

Most breast lumps women feel — 8 out of 10 — aren’t cancer. It’s more common for them to be a cyst or a fibroadenoma . Some lumps come and go during a woman’s menstrual cycle.

You can’t tell what it is by how it feels.

“It’s always important to know your own body and detect a change which may need to be evaluated,” says Beth Overmoyer, director of the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “If it is cancer, then you may have saved your life.”

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Other Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Other changes in the breast people should look out for include:

  • nipple discharge, which may be
  • nipple texture and color changes
  • changes in the breast, including color changes and itchy, flaky, or dimpled skin

Although breast cancer is

could cause cancer.

That said, the longer a cancerous lump grows, the greater the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body. This is why it is important that people speak with a doctor as soon as they notice a lump in their breast of any size.

Benign breast lumps are non-cancerous, and it is normal for people to have them at some point during their lives. Cysts and fibroadenomas are examples of benign breast lumps.

According to , symptoms of benign breast lumps include:

  • general breast pain
  • nipple pain
  • yellow or green discharge from the nipple

However, some types of breast cancer also present with these symptoms, so it is important that a person speaks with a doctor as soon as they notice any changes in their breast.

Also, some benign breast conditions can increase the risk of a person developing breast cancer later in life. In these cases, a doctor will draw up a treatment plan and monitor the breast for any changes.

How To Perform A Male Self

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A person can perform the following steps :

  • Stand in front of a mirror with the arms at the hips. Tighten the chest muscles and check for any changes, including dimpling, swelling, or inverted nipples.
  • Raise the arms above the head and continue looking for breast changes.
  • Using the fingertip, move around the breast and armpit area in a circular motion to check for lumps.
  • Check the nipple for any discharge.
  • Complete this check for both sides.
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    What Is Fat Necrosis

    Fat necrosis is a condition in which painless, round, firm lumps caused by damaged and disintegrating fatty tissues form in the breast tissue. Fat necrosis often occurs in women with very large breasts or who have had a bruise or blow to the breast. This condition may also be the result of a lumpectomy and radiation from a prior cancerous lump. In some cases, healthcare providers will watch the lump through several menstrual cycles. He or she may want to do a mammogram before deciding whether to remove it. These lumps are not cancerous and they do not increase your risk of cancer.

    Common Causes Of Benign Breast Lumps

    Most benign breast lumps and conditions are directly related to your menstrual cycle, to fluctuations in your hormones, and to the fluid buildup that comes with your monthly period. Other benign breast lumps and conditions may be related to plugged milk ducts, infections, or even breast injuries. The risk for benign breast conditions increases for women who have never had children and those who have a history of irregular menstrual cycles or a family history of breast cancer.

    Here are some of the most common benign breast conditions.

    Fibrocystic changes These changes cause a general lumpiness that can be described as ropy or granular, and affect at least half of all women. Symptoms of fibrocystic change include tender, fibrous, rubbery tissue a thickening of tissue or a round, fluid-filled cyst. These changes, which are related to hormonal fluctuation, may increase as you approach middle age and disappear with menopause. Sometimes doctors recommend limiting salt and caffeine consumption to ease fluid buildup. Birth control pills may also ease symptoms.

    Mastitis An infection of the milk duct, mastitis can create a lumpy, red, and warm breast, accompanied by fever. It occurs most commonly in women who are breastfeeding, but can occur in non-breastfeeding women as well. Treatment involves warm compresses and antibiotics. Because these symptoms are similar to inflammatory breast cancer, if they occur in a non-breastfeeding woman a doctor may want to do a biopsy.

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    How To Diagnose Benign Breast Lumps

    The goal of diagnosis in benign breast conditions is to ensure that the lesion is benign indeed and to know if there is any chance of the lesion turning malignant. The tests and investigative procedure is similar in both benign and malignant breast lesions.

    History and physical exam helps the doctor get an idea of the extent of symptoms, pain, general breast health as well as the risk factors for malignant disease. After a thorough history, the doctor will then proceed with the physical exam, assessing the size of breast lump, its mobility, adhesion to the underlying tissue as well as involvement of the nearby lymph nodes.

    Imaging techniques used are most commonly mammography, and ultrasound. An ultrasound helps to differentiate a cyst from a solid tissue. Further investigations can include an MRI scan if the other tests prove inconclusive.

    Fluid analysis of the nipple discharge helps determine what kind of discharge it ispurulent, or not, and if it carries some abnormal cells or blood.

    Biopsy is done to ensure there is no malignant potential in the cells of the breast lump. A core needle biopsy is typically done, to remove slivers of tissue to study their cells under microscope. For larger or deeper lumps, an excisional biopsy is done. A biopsy can conclusively determine if a lesion is benign or cancerous. However, your healthcare provider may still call you for follow-up after six-months or so to make sure there is no change in the lesion.

    Will Lumps Go Away On Their Own

    Science Source

    Sometimes, lumps disappear on their own. Younger people may get lumps related to the menstrual cycle . Those lumps go away by the end of the cycle. However, always notify your healthcare provider about any lumps. Your provider can figure out what is causing the lump and determine if it needs further workup or treatment.

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    Cancer Tumors Versus Cysts And Fibroadenomas

    Cysts, which are fluid-filled lumps, are common in the breast and are benign. They form when fluid builds up inside breast glands, and tend to be smooth or round. Fibroadenomas, which are benign tumors made up of glandular and connective breast tissue, are usually smooth and firm or rubbery to the touch. Both of these conditions tend to affect younger women fibroadenomas are most common in women in their 20s and 30s, and cysts are most common in women under 40.

    Despite these common descriptions, it is impossible to tell by touch whether a lump is cancer.

    Change In Size Shape Or Feel Of Your Breast

    A cancer might cause your breast to look bigger or have a different shape than usual, it might feel different.

    Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender just before their period.

    It can help to be breast aware. This means getting to know the size, shape and feel of your breasts.

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    Signs Of Cancerous Breast Tumors

    Though most breast lumps are benign, some do turn out to be cancerous. If a tumor is cancerous, it will continue to grow and invade normal nearby tissue. If it isnt treated, it can spread to other areas in the body.

    Most cancerous breast tumors first appear as single, hard lumps or thickening under the skin. Other signs to watch for include a change in nipple appearance, nipple secretions, nipple tenderness, and a dimpling or puckering of the skin.

    About half of cancerous breast lumps appear in the upper, outer quadrant of the breast, extending into the armpit. About 18 percent of breast cancer tumors show up in the nipple area. Around 11 percent are found in the lower quadrant, and 6 percent are located in the lower, inner quadrant.

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    How Is Breast Cancer Treated

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    If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.

    The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.

    Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.

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    Invasive Breast Cancer Symptoms

    Most breast cancers start in the ducts, or the tubes that carry milk to the nipple, or in the lobules, the little clusters of sacs where breast milk is made. Invasive breast cancer refers to breast cancer that spreads from the original site to other areas of the breast, the lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body. In these cancers that form in the ducts or lobules, invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma , the cancer spreads from the ducts or lobules to other tissue. Depending on the stage, you may notice symptoms.

    Invasive breast cancer symptoms may include:

    • A lump or mass in the breast
    • Swelling of all or part of the breast, even if no lump is felt
    • Skin irritation or dimpling
    • A lump or swelling in the underarm lymph nodes

    How To Do A Breast Self

    Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.

    Here’s what you should look for:

    • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
    • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling

    If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:

    • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
    • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple
    • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
    Breast Self-Exam Step 1
    Larger Version

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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

    What Does A Breast Lump Feel Like

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    In general, cancerous breast lumps tend to be more irregular in shape. They may also feel firm or solid, and might be fixed to the tissue in the breast. They are also often painless. However, in a small percentage of women, a painful breast lump turns out to be cancer.

    Breast cancer lumps can vary in size. Typically, a lump has to be about one centimeter before a person can feel it however, it depends on where the lump arises in the breast, how big the breast is, and how deep the lesion is.

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