What are breast lumps?
Breast lumps are bumps, growths, or hard areas that feel different from the rest of your breast. You might notice a breast lump by chance or during a breast exam.
Breast lumps are common
Most lumps aren’t cancer
Breast lumps may be painful or painless
Lumps may feel smooth, round, and movable or lumpy and thick
What causes breast lumps?
Cancer isn't the most common cause of breast lumps.
The most common causes of breast lumps are:
Fibroadenomas, which are small, smooth, movable, painless round lumps that usually happen in women who are at an age to have children
Fibrocystic changes Fibrocystic Changes of the Breast Fibrocystic changes are a set of breast symptoms that include pain, cysts, and general lumpiness in your breasts. The word fibrocystic comes from the terms fibrous tissue and cyst. Fibrous tissue... read more , which are general lumpiness and pain in your breasts caused by monthly changes in female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone
Less common causes of breast lumps are:
A clogged milk gland after you stop breastfeeding
When should I go to the doctor for a breast lump?
Go to a doctor within 1 to 2 days if you have a breast lump and:
Redness, swelling, and pain
Pus leaking out
Go to a doctor within 7 days if you have a breast lump and:
The lump won’t move around (it feels stuck to your skin or chest)
The lump feels very hard and uneven
Swollen lymph nodes in your armpit that won’t move
Dimpling of your skin near the lump that looks like the skin of an orange
What will happen at my doctor visit?
Doctors will ask you questions about your symptoms and health. They’ll do an exam, including a breast exam Breast examination Breast disorders may be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Most are noncancerous and not life threatening. Often, they do not require treatment. In contrast, breast cancer can mean... read more to feel the lump.
To tell if your breast lump is cancer, doctors often do more tests, such as:
Ultrasound Ultrasonography Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called... read more (a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the inside of your breast)
Depending on your symptoms and the results of these tests, your doctor may:
Put a needle in the lump and take out fluid or a sample of tissue
Make a cut in the skin to take out part of the lump and look at it under a microscope (biopsy)
How do doctors treat breast lumps?
If your breast lumps are fibrocystic changes Fibrocystic Changes of the Breast Fibrocystic changes are a set of breast symptoms that include pain, cysts, and general lumpiness in your breasts. The word fibrocystic comes from the terms fibrous tissue and cyst. Fibrous tissue... read more , doctors may:
Drain your cyst with a needle
Tell you to wear a soft, supportive bra, such as a sports bra
Tell you to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lessen pain
If your breast lumps are fibroadenomas, doctors may:
Do surgery to remove them
Leave them alone but schedule check-ups to look for any changes
If your breast lumps are breast cancer Breast Cancer Cancer is when cells grow abnormally. Cancer cells don't look or work like normal cells and keep multiplying out of control. Cancer cells can invade and destroy nearby healthy tissue. Sometimes... read more , doctors may do surgery to remove your tumor and give other types of cancer treatment, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and medicine.