A breast lump is an abnormal growth or enlargement of tissue that develops within your breast. There are many types of breast lumps that vary in size, look, and feel. While most of the breast lumps are benign or noncancerous, some are malignant or cancerous. Here is brief description about causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of breast lumps.
CAUSES OF BREAST LUMPS
While there are many causes of breast lumps, the following are a few major causes.
- Abscesses: Sometimes painful abscesses are formed in the breast. These abscesses are caused by bacteria and are noncancerous. Reddening of breast skin and breast skin feeling solid or hot are signs of an abscess. Most of the breast-feeding women develop breast abscesses. Usually the abscesses are benign or noncancerous.
- Fibro-Cystic Breast Disease: Fibrocystic breast disease, also called fibroadenosis, is benign and noncancerous. This condition is not harmful or dangerous. This condition occurs when breast tissue fails to respond appropriately to the hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.
- Intraductal Papilloma: Intraductal papillomas are small noncancerous tumors that form in the milk duct of the breast. These papillomas either appear as one large lump or as many small lumps. These lumps carry no known risk factors. Women in the age group of 35 to 55 are more likely to get these papillomas.
- Fibroadenoma of Breast: A fibroadenoma is a tumor in the breast that is benign or noncancerous. Fibroadenomas form due to abnormal response to the hormone estrogen. Sometimes fibroadenomas are too small to be felt, nontender, feel like marbles, and are moveable under the skin. Fibroadenomas are not life-threatening, but it is safe to get treatment.
- Mastitis: Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue causing swelling, inflammation, and redness of the breast. This condition mostly occurs in breast-feeding women. Mastitis can also cause lumps in women who are not breast-feeding. If untreated, an abscess may form. Treatment with antibiotics is effective in curing mastitis.
- Lipoma: A lipoma is a benign growth that develops in the fat tissue of a breast. It doesn’t require any treatment as it is non cancerous, but sometimes doctors remove it surgically if it is too large and causing any symptoms.
- Fat necrosis: Lumps can form due to injury or trauma to the fatty tissue in your breast. These lumps are not harmful and normally heal and disappear over a period of time.
- Breast cancer: While majority of breast lumps are benign or noncancerous, some lumps are caused by breast cancer. It is suggested to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis it you think the lump is malignant or cancerous.
- Breast cysts: Breast cysts are fluid-filled lumps that are oval or round in shape, and feel smooth and firm upon touching. These cysts are benign or noncancerous. These cysts tend to move when pressed and usually appear within two weeks prior to a period and then disappear after the period.
SYMPTOMS OF BREAST LUMPS
The following are some of the major symptoms of breast lumps.
- Breast Tenderness
- Breast Pain
- Breast Swelling
- Lumpy Breast Tissue
- Unilateral Breast Enlargement
- Nipple Retraction
- Nipple Discharge
- Sore Nipple
- Enlarged Lymph Nodes and Armpits
- Orange Peel Texture To Breast
- Dimpling of Breast Surface
DIAGNOSIS OF BREAST LUMPS
Usually doctors perform a physical examination of the breast lumps when you consult one. The doctor asks you about various symptoms to identify the cause of the lump. If the doctor is unable to determine the cause, he/she may order one of the following tests to arrive at a diagnosis.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Fine-needle aspiration
TREATMENT OF BREAST LUMPS
Most of the breast lumps doesn’t need treatment. But, if needed, your doctor will formulate a treatment plan after determining the diagnosis of the breast lump.
Benign or Noncancerous Lumps
If your lump is benign or noncancerous, the doctor will prescribe appropriate medicines or other procedures such as drainage of fluid to treat it.
Malignant or Cancerous Lumps
If the diagnosis is found to be breast cancer, doctor will formulate an appropriate treatment plan depending on the type, size, and location of the breast cancer. The treatment may include one or more of the following:
- Chemotherapy (Treatment with drugs)
- Lumpectomy (Surgical removal of the lump)
- Mastectomy (Surgical removal of breast tissue)
- Radiation (Treatment by radioactive rays or materials)