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Where Is The Lump For Breast Cancer

Is It A Breast Cancer Lump

Finding a Lump in Your Breast UF Health Breast Center Jacksonville

Lumps or masses in the breast are common. Thankfully most of them are benignmeaning they are not cancerous. Fluid-filled cysts and noncancerous tumors such as fibroadenomas can often present as a lump, raising concern of cancer. Benign breast conditions, like fibrocystic changes, can cause the breasts to feel lumpy. So how can you tell if a mass is a breast cancer lump and not one of these other conditions?

A breast cancer lump is usually hard with irregular borders and painless. They can occur anywhere in the breast or even the armpit. It can be difficult to tell if a mass is mobile or just moving the tissues around it.

Bottom line? Simply feeling the breast doesnt give you enough information to tell the difference between a cancerous mass and a benign one. The key is to know your breasts, pay attention to any changes and get anything out of the ordinary checked by a medical professional for further work-up.

Where Breast Cancer Starts

Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast. The breast is an organ that sits on top of the upper ribs and chest muscles. There is a left and right breast and each one has mainly glands, ducts, and fatty tissue. In women, the breast makes and delivers milk to feed newborns and infants. The amount of fatty tissue in the breast determines the size of each breast.

The breast has different parts:

  • Lobules are the glands that make breast milk. Cancers that start here are called lobular cancers.
  • Ducts are small canals that come out from the lobules and carry the milk to the nipple. This is the most common place for breast cancer to start. Cancers that start here are called ductal cancers.
  • The nipple is the opening in the skin of the breast where the ducts come together and turn into larger ducts so the milk can leave the breast. The nipple is surrounded by slightly darker thicker skin called the areola. A less common type of breast cancer called Paget disease of the breast can start in the nipple.
  • The fat and connective tissue surround the ducts and lobules and help keep them in place. A less common type of breast cancer called phyllodes tumor can start in the stroma.
  • Blood vessels and lymph vessels are also found in each breast. Angiosarcoma is a less common type of breast cancer that can start in the lining of these vessels. The lymph system is described below.

To learn more, see Types of Breast Cancer.

What Are Breasts Made Of

Your breasts are made up of the following:

  • milk glands, which make breast milk and are made up of many milk sacs throughout your breast
  • milk ducts, which carry milk to your nipples
  • fibrous tissue, which covers and supports your whole breast
  • fatty tissue, which gives your breasts shape and size and supports the glands.

In your breast, armpit and neck there are also collections of lymph nodes. These are small glands, each about the size of a pea, that drain your breast of lymph fluid, helping your body fight infection and disease. Your chest muscles and ribs lie beneath your breasts.

You may notice that your breasts are slightly different in shape or size or that one is slightly higher than the other this is very common. If your breasts have always been like this, these differences are normal.

To be breast aware, you need to:

  • know what is normal for you
  • know what changes to look and feel for
  • report any changes to your doctor straight away
  • go to mammography screening if you are between 45 and 69 years old
  • know your family history of cancer.

Look and feel for breast changes regularly, such as when dressing or showering, so that you get to know your breasts and how they change at different times of the month and as you age.

If you notice any change in your breasts that is unusual for you see your doctor straightaway. For example:

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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.

Myth : A Breast Lump Is Probably Cancer

The Basics on Benign and Cancerous Breast Lumps

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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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.

How Does Cancer Spread Beyond The Breast

Breast cancer can invade through nearby tissue, or spread through the body via the lymphatic system and blood.

  • Tissue: the cancer spreads from the original site and grows into nearby areas .
  • Lymphatic system: breast cancer cells break away from the original site and can enter nearby lymph tubes , grow in nearby lymph nodes or travel through lymph vessels to other parts of the body.
  • Blood: breast cancer cells break away from the original site and can enter and travel through nearby blood vessels to other parts of the body.

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Beyond The Breast Cancer Lump

Feeling a lump or a new change in your breast is a signal that you should make an appointment with your doctor. Other potential signs of breast cancer warrant a trip as well. Many of these changes can be seen as well as felt so make sure you continue to be aware of your breasts and your normal.

Other potential signs of breast cancer include:

  • Skin changes, such as dimpled, puckering or scaly skin
  • Change in size, shape, skin texture or color of your breast
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Nipple changes such as inversion, tenderness or flaking
  • Swelling on part of your breast or enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit

When To Contact A Medical Professional

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  • The skin on your breast appears dimpled or wrinkled .
  • You find a new breast lump during self-exam.
  • You have bruising on your breast but did not experience any injury.
  • You have nipple discharge, especially if it is bloody, clear like water, or pinkish .
  • Your nipple is inverted but normally is not inverted.

Also call if:

  • You are a woman, age 20 or older, and want guidance on how to perform a breast self-exam.
  • You are a woman over age 40 and have not had a mammogram in the past year.

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Which Breast Lumps Should Women Worry About

Breast lumps are frightening, but fairly common. And while you already know that a lump could potentially signal breast cancer, you’ve probably also heard that most lumps are noncancerous, or benign.

So how can you tell if a breast lump needs to be checked out by a doctor?

“All breast lumps need to be evaluated by a physician, regardless of your age or where in your breast you feel the lump,” says Dr. Joshi. “More often than not, breast lumps are harmless. But, any lump could potentially be breast cancer, and it’s impossible for a woman to determine whether her lump is cancerous or benign just by feeling it.”

That being said, Dr. Joshi says that there are some features that make a lump particularly concerning, including:

  • Changes in the skin over the lump
  • Nipple changes, including enlargement or bloody discharge
  • Changes in the size of the lump

“Additionally, having a family history of breast cancer makes it more likely that a lump could be cancerous,” warns Dr. Joshi.

What To Do If You Find A Lump

If you find a lump or suspicious area in your breast, dont panic. Make an appointment to see your doctor right away. This is important even if youve had cysts or other benign breast issues before. Dont assume that every breast lump or change is the same.

Your doctor will likely refer you for a diagnostic mammogram, which is one of the best ways to help differentiate a benign lump from a cancerous one. They may also order an ultrasound of the breast. Advanced imaging and expertise allows doctors to detect concerning breast abnormalities earlier and more accurately. The Breast Health Center at Loma Linda University Cancer Center offers the most advanced breast cancer screening capabilities including all types of mammography, such as 3-D mammograms. Whats more, an expert radiologist dedicated solely to breast imaging reads all mammography studies.

Patient navigators are registered nurses trained in oncology care to guide you through the challenges of dealing with cancer. They are here to support you as you go through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Contact the Patient Navigator team at 800-782-2623.

Also Check: Stage Four Breast Cancer Symptoms

When To Contact A Doctor

A person should contact a doctor if they experience any symptoms that may indicate breast cancer. Most lumps are not cancerous, but a doctor can help rule this out.

Screening can help detect changes before a lump becomes noticeable. At this stage, breast cancer is easier to treat.

Current guidelines from the American College of Physicians recommend that females speak with a doctor about breast cancer screening from the age of 40 years. They also recommend that females at average risk of breast cancer have a mammogram every 2 years from 5074 years of age.

People with a higher risk, such as those with a family history of breast cancer, may need more regular screening.

It is worth noting that different authorities, such as the

What Does A Breast Cancer Lump Feel Like

Stage 4 breast cancer symptoms and prognosis

One of the most common signs of breast cancer is a lump. While feeling something suspicious in your breast can be alarming to say the least. But most breast lumps are not cancerous. How do you know what a breast cancer lump feels like? Learn what to look for and when to seek help from a specialist.

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Diagnosing And Treating Breast Cancer At Ctca

Finding a breast lump can be scary. That’s why, when confirming whether a lump is cancer, many women choose to seek out a breast cancer expert who can provide answers with the sense of urgency and commitment to accuracy they deserve.

Many patients come to CTCA for a breast cancer diagnosisand for second opinionsbecause of our expert, comprehensive cancer care. We only treat cancer at CTCA, and our Breast Cancer Centers recognize the value in dedicating a multidisciplinary team of experts to a specific cancer type, especially one as complex as breast cancer.

At the Breast Cancer Centers at each of our CTCA hospitals, located across the nation, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision. Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a registered oncology nurse, who helps track the various appointments, follow up on tests and answer questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with advanced training in helping patients restore function and appearance. Fertility preservation and genetic testing are also available for qualifying patients who need them.

No matter where you decide to go to assess your breast lump, while researching your options, look for a facility and a care team with the expertise you need and the credentials you trust.

Expert

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.

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How Do I Keep My Breasts Healthy

Your doctor can help you decide the right time to start and how often to get them. The American Cancer Society recommends women ages 45 to 54 at average risk for breast cancer get yearly mammograms. Women 55 and older can switch to getting a mammogram every other year or continue with the yearly screening tests. Women ages 40 to 44 can start a yearly mammogram.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening mammograms every other year for women ages 50-74.

If you have a high risk for breast cancer, get a mammogram every year. You may start getting them at a younger age, too. You may also get ultrasound screenings, too. Breast MRI screening tests, in addition to mammogram, is sometimes used in certain women with a high risk of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor to decide what’s best for you.

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Questions For Diagnosing The Cause Of An Underarm Lump

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To diagnose the underlying cause of a lump under your arm, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will most likely ask you several questions related to your symptoms. Questions for diagnosing the cause of an underarm include:

  • Are you breast-feeding?

  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms, such as a or fever?

  • Have you noticed any changes in your breast, such as a lump?

  • How long have you had the lump?

  • Is the lump red or painful?

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What Is Sclerosing Adenosis

Sclerosing adenosis is excess growth of tissues in the breasts lobules. This often causes breast pain. While these changes in the breast tissue are very small, they may show up on mammograms as calcifications and can make lumps. Usually a biopsy is needed to rule out cancer. In addition, because the condition can be mistaken for cancer, the lumps are usually removed through surgical biopsy.

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 .

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Appearance On An Ultrasound

Breast ultrasound can detect some lumps that a mammogram cannot. It is also used to help diagnose masses found on a mammogram.

Ultrasound can help tell the difference between fluid-filled cysts, which aren’t likely to be cancerous, and hard cysts that need further testing. Hard cysts are more likely to be cancerous.

On an ultrasound report, the term “hypoechoic” refers to an area that appears darker in the images. This means the area is solid.

How Are Cysts Diagnosed And Treated

Characteristics of Breast Cancer Lumps

Your healthcare provider may find a cyst during a physical exam. He or she may confirm the diagnosis with a mammogram or ultrasound. You may also have a fine-needle aspiration. This involves guiding a very fine needle into the cyst and drawing fluid from it . This also serves as the treatment for this condition. Once the fluid is aspirated, the cyst collapses and disappears. But, cysts can reappear later, in which case they are simply drained again. Cysts are seldom cancerous .

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