Breast Lumps

What are Breast Lumps?

General Description/Overview 

Breast lumps are firm growths inside the breast that may be filled with fluid or they may be solid protrusions. Lumps in the breast are most often caused by fibrocystic changes and fibroadenomas.

An injury to the breast, a blocked milk gland, an infection of the breast and cancer of the breast are other reasons why individuals may feel a lump. Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but individuals should visit a medical professional for an evaluation if they feel a lump in their breast. After an examination and testing, the doctor may want to take a biopsy of the lump to determine if it is cancerous.

What are the Symptoms of Breast Lumps?

The most obvious symptom of a breast lump is feeling a growth inside the breast. It is also common for fluid to leak out of the nipple and individuals may have small indentations on the skin of their breast.

Some lumps cause pain or the breast is sore to the touch. Symptoms that are more serious include blood leakage from the nipple, thickened skin on the breast and the presence of a growth in the area of the armpit, which can also be painful.

Breast Lumps Causes

A patient may experience pain or tenderness in one or both of their breasts from breast lumps. Many times, the pain or tenderness occurs due to benign factors such as pregnancy or puberty. A breast lump can also develop because of a recurrent problem, particularly among women with cyclical pain owing to their menstrual cycle status.

Although cancer is another factor frequently linked with breast lumps among some women, it’s rarely the cause of most isolated breast pain and tenderness in patients. Other causes of breast lumps include fibrocystic breast disease, normal hormonal fluctuations, breastfeeding, estrogen therapy, and chest wall tenderness. Trauma or injury to the breast, use of certain medications, an infection, and breast cancer are other health complications that can likely lead to breast lumps in patients. Consequently, in case a patient experiences any alarming signs or any unpleasant symptoms from their breast, they should seek medical treatment immediately for further diagnosis and treatment.

How are Breast Lumps Treated?

The type of treatment required depends on the cause of the breast lump. If the growth is caused by an infection when breastfeeding, a physician will prescribe antibiotics and individuals should apply heat to the breast by using a warm cloth. Afterward, pumping the milk out of the breast will decrease the pain and swelling.

If the lump is caused by an abscess, the doctor will drain the fluid out of the cyst. When an individual has a fibroadenoma, which is a smooth lump that is benign, a physician will normally remove the lump. If the mass is cancerous, the tumor will be taken out of the breast and individuals may have one or a combination of treatments that consist of hormonal drugs, chemotherapy and radiation.

Breast Lumps Prevention

To date, there are no proven or substantial ways to prevent malignant breast lumps. However, most breast lumps cases are usually benign and can be treated easily. In fact, many experts agree patients can dramatically lower the risks by understanding their risk factors, doing monthly breast self-examinations (BSE), maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and controlling levels of alcohol consumption. Also avoiding smoking – especially secondhand smoke – exercising, and talking to the doctor about genetic counseling programs (if the patient has a family history), can further prevent patients from malignant or cancerous breast lumps.

Even though many cases of breast lumps may appear or seem non-cancerous, it’s important to have each lump and any other abrupt changes in breast tissue examined by the doctor. A patient has a better outcome and a higher long-term survival rate when their breast lump situation is diagnosed and treated early.

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Last Reviewed:
October 01, 2016
Last Updated:
November 21, 2017