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.
How Is Breast Cancer Treated
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.
Lymph Node Surgery For Breast Cancer
If breast cancer spreads, it typically goes first to nearby lymph nodes under the arm. It can also sometimes spread to lymph nodes near the collarbone or near the breast bone. Knowing if the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes helps doctors find the best way to treat your cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, its important to find out how far the cancer has spread. To help find out if the cancer has spread outside the breast, one or more of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed and checked in the lab. This is an important part of staging. If the lymph nodes contain cancer cells, there is a higher chance that cancer cells have also spread to other parts of the body. More imaging tests may be done if this is the case.
Lymph node removal can be done in different ways, depending on whether any lymph nodes are enlarged, how big the breast tumor is, and other factors.
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What Are Breast Lumps
A breast lump is a mass that develops in the breast. Depending on the type, breast lumps may be large or small and may feel hard or spongy. Some lumps cause pain, while others go unnoticed until identified during an imaging test.
A lump may be discovered by a woman doing breast self-exam or by her health care provider during a physical exam. Suspicious lumps may also be detected during annual screening mammography. Although uncommon, breast lumps can occur in men.
It is important to become familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel so that you are able to report any changes to your doctor.
How To Tell If A Lump Might Be Cancerous
How they feel Hard, and they dont hurt or move. You would find one in the lower half of the neck.
Why they pop up The cause of thyroid nodules is not known. After verifying that yours is benign, your M.D. might simply monitor you. If you have additional thyroid symptoms, however, treating the underlying disorder with medication or with radioactive iodine can shrink the lump.
How they feel Like a soft grape. They are often tender to the touch. These fluid-filled sacs are common in breasts and the genital area.
Why they pop up Breast cysts tend to wax and wane with your cycle if you have one that persists longer than a month, request an ultrasound or a fine-needle aspiration. Should you find a soft genital bump, its likely that a blocked oil duct has caused an epidermoid cyst, says Anita Shivadas, M.D., an internist at the Cleveland Clinic. If it is sensitive, apply warm, moist compresses and antibiotic cream. No pain? Leave it alone.
How they feel Like a squishy ball of tissue that moves easily. These fat deposits show up mostly on the legs, trunk and arms, explains Eileen S. Moore, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Why they pop up Lipomas tend to run in families. Unless they are painful or impinge on a nerve or blood vessel, your M.D. can keep an eye on them otherwise, they can be surgically removed.
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What Does A Breast Lump Feel Like
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.
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
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Symptoms Of Benign Breast Lumps
Benign breast lumps can appear anywhere in your breast. They may or may not be painful, and can be large or small. Sometimes a lump can develop alongside other symptoms too.
See your GP if you develop any of the following symptoms.
- A lump or thickening in your breast or armpit.
- A change in the size, shape or feel of your breasts.
- Dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin on your breast.
- A change in the shape or position of your nipple for instance, if it starts turning inwards towards your breast .
- A rash around your nipple area.
- Discharge from one or both nipples.
- Pain that doesnt go away in one part of your breast or armpit.
Although most breast lumps are found to be benign , these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of breast cancer. So, its important to get any unusual symptoms you notice checked by a doctor.
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Calcium lumps are small spots of calcium salts. Theyre very common and develop as you get older. You probably wont be able to feel them theyre usually found when women have a mammogram.
Calcium lumps are usually benign and harmless. However, some patterns of calcium lumps can be an early sign of breast cancer. If you have calcium lumps, your doctor may ask you to have more tests.
Common Causes Of Breast Lumps
Fibroadenomas. These are the most common benign lumps. If you push on them, they are solid, round, rubbery lumps that move freely. Theyre usually painless. Women between 20 and 30 get them most often. Theyre also more common in African-American women. Fibroadenomas can be surgically removed.
Fibrocystic changes. Changes in hormones during your menstrual cycles can create changes in your breasts. These are known as fibrocystic breast changes. You could get lumps in both breasts that increase in size and tenderness just before your period. You might have nipple discharge as well.
The lumps are milk ducts and tissues around them that have grown and widened to form cysts. These enlarge quickly in response to hormones released near your period. The lumps may be hard or rubbery and could feel like a single lump. Fibrocystic changes can also cause breast tissue to thicken.
These changes are often most noticeable during your 40s. Theyre the most common cause of benign breast lumps in women ages 35 to 50. Postmenopausal women are less likely to have these types of breast changes. Thats because they dont have monthly changes in hormones.
They dont require treatment, but your doctor may recommend ways to ease monthly tenderness.
Simple cysts. Simple cysts are fluid-filled sacs that usually affect both breasts. You could have one or many. They can vary in size. Their tenderness and size often change with your menstrual cycle.
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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.
How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed
During your regular physical examination, your doctor will take a thorough personal and family medical history. He or she will also perform and/or order one or more of the following:
- Breast examination: During the breast exam, the doctor will carefully feel the lump and the tissue around it. Breast cancer usually feels different than benign lumps.
- Digital mammography: An X-ray test of the breast can give important information about a breast lump. This is an X-ray image of the breast and is digitally recorded into a computer rather than on a film. This is generally the standard of care .
- Ultrasonography: This test uses sound waves to detect the character of a breast lump whether it is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass . This may be performed along with the mammogram.
Based on the results of these tests, your doctor may or may not request a biopsy to get a sample of the breast mass cells or tissue. Biopsies are performed using surgery or needles.
After the sample is removed, it is sent to a lab for testing. A pathologist a doctor who specializes in diagnosing abnormal tissue changes views the sample under a microscope and looks for abnormal cell shapes or growth patterns. When cancer is present, the pathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is and whether it has spread beyond the ducts or lobules .
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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.
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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Look For Other Breast Changes
A woman can have breast cancer without noticing any changes in breast lumps. As one MyBCTeam member shared, I never felt a lump or had any tenderness in my breasts. In fact, some cases of breast cancer are first detected when the nipples change in appearance, secrete fluids, or become tender, or when the breasts skin becomes dimpled or puckered.
The same member went on to note that other symptoms helped point to a diagnosis of breast cancer: What I did have was a flattening of my nipples. No tenderness or pain just that my nipples didnt get erect anymore and were inverted. And a year before, I had a blood clot in my lung. Found out later that these can both be signs of breast cancer.
Let your doctor know if you experience any other symptoms of breast cancer, such as nipple discharge, skin dimpling, or swelling in the surrounding tissues . According to the Stony Brook Cancer Center, any abnormality in the size, texture, shape, or nipple of just one breast rather than both may be more dangerous than changes affecting both breasts symmetrically.
Breast Examination After Treatment For Breast Cancer
The incision line may be thick, raised, red and possibly tender for several months after surgery. Remember to examine the entire incision line.
If there is redness in areas away from the scar, contact your physician. It is not unusual to experience brief discomforts and sensations in the breast or nipple area .
At first, you may not know how to interpret what you feel, but soon you will become familiar with what is now normal for you.
After breast reconstruction
Following breast reconstruction, breast examination for the reconstructed breast is done exactly the same way as for the natural breast. If an implant was used for the reconstruction, press firmly inward at the edges of the implant to feel the ribs beneath. If your own tissue was used for the reconstruction, understand that you may feel some numbness and tightness in your breast. In time, some feeling in your breasts may return.
After radiation therapy
After radiation therapy, you may notice some changes in the breast tissue. The breast may look red or sunburned and may become irritated or inflamed. Once therapy is stopped, the redness will disappear and the breast will become less inflamed or irritated. At times, the skin can become more inflamed for a few days after treatment and then gradually improve after a few weeks. The pores in the skin over the breast also may become larger than usual.
What to do
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Myth : A Small Lump Is Less Likely To Be Cancer Than A Large Lump
Breast lumps come in all sizes, and size doesn’t affect the odds that it’s cancer, says Melissa Scheer, MD, a breast-imaging specialist at Manhattan Diagnostic Radiology in New York.
Whenever you feel a lump that’s new or unusual, even if it’s tiny, see your doctor. Even small lumps can be aggressive cancers.
A Lump In Your Breast
A lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Lumps are often hard and painless, although some are painful. However, not all lumps are cancer. Benign breast conditions that can also cause lumps.
Still, its important to have your doctor check out any new lump or mass right away. If it does turn out to be cancer, the sooner its diagnosed the better.
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What Are Breast Lobes And Breast Ducts
Each female breast contains 15-20 sections called lobes. Each lobe is made up of many smaller sacs called lobules . It is these lobules that produce milk in breastfeeding women. The lobes and lobules are connected to the nipple by tubes called ducts, which carry milk to the nipple. Milk flows through the nipple to the outside during breastfeeding.
What Does A Mammogram Show
A mammogram is a test used to examine the inside of the breasts, using a low dose X-ray. A trained clinician can interpret the images to identify any abnormal areas, masses or calcium deposits that may or may not indicate breast cancer. Mammograms performed on women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer are called screening mammograms. Mammograms that used to evaluate an abnormal breast symptom are called diagnostic mammograms.
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What If The Lump Feels Like A Ridge What If I Have A Pea
You should have a familiarity with your body and what the breast normally feels like, including its normal shape, appearance, and texture. Generally, women are advised to analyze their breasts in the shower with soapy fingers to get a nice feel of the normal tissues. If you do that and have some familiarity with your normal breast tissue, and then find something different, you should reach out to your medical team.