Ductal Or Lobular Hyperplasia
Atypical lobular hyperplasia and atypical ductal hyperplasia are considered precancerous conditions. Atypical describes cells that look abnormal under a microscope, while hyperplasia describes an overgrowth of cells.
Breast tumors that have these characteristics are more likely to turn into cancer therefore, close monitoring or surgical excision is required to treat these conditions.
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.
What Does A Breast Cancer Lump Feel Like
For many years, women were encouraged to perform monthly self-exams of their breasts, using their fingers to search for lumps that might be cancerous. Recent guidelines from the American Cancer Society no longer recommend routine physical examination of the breasteither by a physician or the woman herselfas an effective breast cancer screening method. Instead, the ACS recommends that women rely primarily on regular mammogram screenings for early breast cancer detection, while also being aware of how their breasts normally look and feel so they can report any changes to their health care provider.
If you discover a lump in your breast or armpit area, it doesnt necessarily mean you have cancer. In fact, there are quite a few common breast conditions that can cause cysts or other lumplike growths, and the vast majority of breast lump tissue thats tested turns out to be benign . Even so, you should alert your doctor whenever you discover a lump in your breast.
Its also important to consider that the symptoms of some forms of breast cancer dont include lumps at all, so youll want to be aware of and on the lookout for symptoms that might indicate breast cancer.
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Does A Breast Lump Mean Infection
It can. Sometimes a painful lump, with or without redness, is the first sign of an infection. Mastitis is an infection most common in breastfeeding moms. It happens when bacteria get into the mammary ducts through your nipple. Infection happens in small pockets. Youâll feel tender, warm lumps in your breast.
For relief, try a hot shower and let the warm water flow over your breasts. A warm compress can also help. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic.
You Cant Face The Stream In The Shower
Does wearing a bra suddenly irritate your nipples? Are your breasts so painful that you have to face away from the stream of water in the shower? Have your breasts become so sensitive that you dont like your partner to touch them anymore? Breasts or nipples that become more sensitive than normal can be a sign of cancer, Dr. Ross says.
Breast sensitivity is often tied to hormone changes, which is why many women experience breast tenderness as part of PMS and its one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. However, some types of breast cancer can affect your hormones, giving you a similar feeling, she explains.
So if your breasts are suddenly way more sensitive than normal and its not around that time of the month and youre not pregnant, give your doctor a call, she says.
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Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Most early-stage breast cancers in the U.S. are found with screening mammography, before any warning signs or symptoms appear.
However, breast cancer also is found when there are warning signs. So, its important to be aware of these warning signs and see a health care provider if you notice any breast changes.
How To Do A Breast Self
Dr. Comander offers these step-by-step instructions for breast self-examination:
Dr. Comander recommends monthly self-exam for:
- Cancer survivors, in addition to frequent follow-up and screening appointments
- Females of all ages, whether or not they have high risk for breast cancer
- Males 35 years and older who have a strong family history of breast cancer or certain genetic mutations
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Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
- Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
- Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
- A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
- Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
- Changes in your nipple, like one that:
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.
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Breast Cancer Screening At Msk
A physical exam alone cannot reliably distinguish a benign lump in the breast from a suspicious one. Thankfully, there are many options for screening:
- A 3-D mammogram offers a detailed look at the breast in slices almost like a photo flipbook so doctors can get a very detailed picture. 3D allows us to see cancers through dense breast tissue.
- An ultrasound uses sound waves to see lumps. It can distinguish between solid and cystic masses.
- A contrast mammogram and an MRI both show if the lump has blood flow. Cancers typically have increased blood supply.
At MSK, we offer breast cancer screening services and programs for people at all levels of risk, with or without a history of cancer. MSKs breast cancer screening guidelines recommend that most women get a mammogram every year beginning at age 40, with annual mammography beginning earlier for women at a high risk for breast cancer.
What Sensation Does A Breast Lump Produce
Breast lumps with cancer typically have an uneven shape. They could be anchored to the breast tissue and feel substantial or stiff. They frequently cause no pain. A painful breast lump occasionally turns out to be cancer in women.
The size of breast cancer lumps might vary. One centimeter, or the size of a large lima bean, is the typical minimum size of a lump before a person can feel it however, this varies depending on the location of the lump in the breast, the size of the breast, and the depth of the lesion.
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Its time to schedule an appointment if the lump is new to you, doesnt feel soft, or moves when you touch it. Regular self-exams, clinical breast exams, and annual mammograms all benefit patients. Women can learn about their breasts typical appearance and sensation by self-examining.
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How Are Breast Lumps And Pain Diagnosed
If you find a breast mass or lump, you should schedule an appointment with your health care professional who will do a breast examination to check your breasts for irregularities, dimpling, tightened skin, lumps, inflamed or tender areas, and nipple discharge. The areas of each breast and underarms will be examined.
If your doctor finds a lump at this time, you may have a re-examination in two to three weeks. If it is still present, then your doctor may recommend some further testing. The ideal time for the breast examination is seven to nine days after your period.
If the physical examination is normal and no mass is found, laboratory and imaging tests are not usually necessary in women younger than 35 years. Women older than 35 years should probably still have a mammogram unless they have had a mammogram in the past 12 months.
Always Seek Medical Attention
The key point is that anybody should seek medical attention for any concerning lumps in their 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.
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Possible Cause: Benign Breast Lumps
There can be several reasons for breast lumps that arent related to cancer.
A cyst is a pocket of fluid that can develop in the breasts. While these are usually too small to feel, sometimes they grow large enough to feel like a lump. Cysts dont put a patient at an increased risk for cancer and dont typically require any treatment.
The most common benign tumor that feels hard but is mobile when you press on it is a fibroadenoma. In this case, your doctor may want to remove it, but having these don’t lead to cancer for most patients .
Can Breast Cancer Be Detected During A Self Exam
Still, some men and women will find breast cancer and be diagnosed with it as a result of a lump detected during a self-exam. If youre a woman, its important for you to be familiar with how your breasts look and check them regularly. This will help you become aware of any changes or abnormalities as they occur.
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What Does A Cancerous Lump Feel Like
Bumps that are cancerous are typically large, hard, painless to the touch and appear spontaneously. The mass will grow in size steadily over the weeks and months. Cancerous lumps that can be felt from the outside of your body can appear in the breast, testicle, or neck, but also in the arms and legs.
What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cysts
Breast cysts can feel soft or hard and can be any size, ranging from a few millimetres to several centimetres. Theyre usually oval or round in shape and can develop quickly anywhere in the breast. For some people, cysts can feel uncomfortable and even painful. Before a period, cysts may become larger and feel sore and tender as hormone levels change. However, many women can have cysts and not be able to feel them at all.
Although much more common in women, men can also get breast cysts.
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What Should You Do If You Feel A Breast Lump
Dr. Joshi says your first action after feeling a breast lump should be to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor.
Your doctor will look for a variety of features and characteristics in order to answer questions such as:
- How large is the lump?
- Does the lump move and slip under the fingers, or is it attached to the skin?
- Is the lump painless or painful?
- Is the lump accompanied by red, itchy or inflamed skin?
- Is the lump affecting the nipple, causing inversion or discharge?
- Is the lump changing in size?
- Does the lump become more painful or change in size around your period?
- Is there more than on lump?
- Are there lumps in both breasts?
“Based on the physical and clinical characteristics of the lump, your doctor may or may not recommend follow-up tests to more thoroughly evaluate the mass, such as a diagnostic mammogram or biopsy,” explains Dr. Joshi.
Breast Lumps And Pain Self
- Limit your intake of caffeine in coffee and soft drinks, theophyllines in tea, and theobromine in chocolate. Although the role of these methylxanthines is controversial, some women report improvement in pain when they limit these.
- Daily vitamin E can reduce fibrocystic changes. Avoid doses higher than 600 mg per day.
- Wear a well-fitted bra or sports bra for support, especially if you have large breasts. You may want to wear a comfortable bra to bed.
- Apply warm compresses to your breasts for pain relief.
- Over-the-counter pain medication may help.
- Make note, and avoid, any foods that may seem to cause the pain.
- Keep a diary of pain, documenting frequency and severity for at least 2 months. This may be enough to convince you and your doctor that the pain is cyclic and not severe enough to warrant medications that may have bothersome side effects.
- Injury: If you suffer an injury to your breast, apply an ice pack for 20 minutes just as you would for any other bruise. Do not let the ice touch your skin directly. You can use a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. You may take a pain reliever such as ibuprofen .
- Mastitis: Breast infections require treatment by a doctor. After you see a doctor, try pain medication, frequent feedings of your infant, and warm compresses.
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Signs Of Cancerous Masses
Cancerous masses in the breast are often very firm, like a rock. They have an irregular shape and size. They can be mobile but are often fixed, meaning they feel like they are attached to the skin or nearby tissue. You cant really move them around by pushing on them. Theyre also not likely to be painful, though they can be in some cases.
On exam, other changes may be present as well. These changes may include:
- Dimpling of the skin, with a texture like orange peel
- Nipple retraction, where the nipple turns inward instead of outward
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
One type of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, does not usually cause a lump. Instead, you may see redness, swelling, and sometimes a rash on the skin of the breast.
Breast Lumps: Why Size Movability And Pain Matter
Your breasts are made up of fat, nerves, blood vessels, fibrous connective tissue, and glandular tissue, as well as an intricate system of milk-producing lobules , and ducts . This anatomy in and of itself creates a lumpy, uneven terrain.
A lump in the breast distinguishes itself from this background of normal irregularities. Harmless breast lumps can be solid and unmovable, like a dried bean or movable, soft, and fluid-filled you can roll it between your fingers like a grape. A lump may be pea-size, smaller than a pea, or even several inches across, although this larger size is rare.
What typically differentiates a benign breast lump from a cancerous breast lump is movement. That is, a fluid-filled lump that rolls between the fingers is less likely to be cancerous than a hard lump in your breast that feels rooted in place.
Another rule of thumb has to do with pain. Breast cancer does not usually cause pain. Benign conditions sometimes do, although there are exceptions to this rule as well. For instance, a rare form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, may cause symptoms such as aching, tenderness, pain, or burning in the breast.
The only way to know the status of a lump for sure is through medical tests, such as an ultrasound, a mammogram, or a fine needle aspiration , in which your doctor uses a tiny needle to extract a bit of the lump for laboratory examination.
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