A Lump in Your Breast? What It Means

Finding a lump in your breast can cause fear and anxiety. One thing is certain: fear and anxiety are negative experiences, and focusing on that fear will not have a positive outcome. If you find a lump in your breast, call your primary care physician or make an appointment for a screening mammogram. Knowledge is power. Once you’ve made your appointment, read on for some useful information. 

A lump can be a sign of cancer.

One of the signs of cancer can be a lump in the breast. In fact, any change in the shape or appearance of your breasts is worth asking your doctor about. Breasts can change because of hormonal changes, pregnancy and giving birth, gaining or losing weight, and many more life events. 

Some of the more common changes seen with breast cancer include redness or flaking in the skin of the breast, thickening or swelling of some part of the breast, pulling in or dimpling of the skin, discharge of something other than milk from the nipple, and irritation or pain in the breast.

Most lumps are not cancer.

The two most common causes of lumps in the breast are cysts and fibrocystic breast condition. More than 90% of breast lumps are NOT cancer. In fact, more than 80% of lumps that are biopsied are not cancer.

Your doctor will start with a physical exam. You might have a mammogram, ultrasound, or breast MRI. A biopsy (allowing the doctors to look at the cells of the lump) might also be necessary. 

Depending on what your care team learns from these tests, you might need to have further tests. You might take a “wait and see” approach to make sure the lump doesn’t change or grow. You might go on to have a diagnostic mammogram

The object of these tests is to find out for certain whether you have breast cancer. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, there are many different possibilities for treatments. Early diagnosis increases the chances of recovery. 

However, most breast lumps are not signs of cancer. Plan to have an annual mammogram or more frequent mammograms if necessary. Continue with breast self-exams and have your annual well-woman visit each year. Taking good care of your breast health should help you avoid anxiety. 

Contact The Breast Center with any questions.