The formation of non-cancerous lumps in the breasts can have various causes. Cysts and fibroadenomas are two of the most common causes of benign breast lumps. Several other diseases, including fat necrosis and sclerosing adenosis, can also present as lumps. Benign cysts make up the majority of lumps, especially in younger women. Size and soreness can change with the menstrual cycle.
In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr Rajat Bajaj, Senior Consultant - Medical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Noida explains that not every tumour or lump in the breast is cancerous. There are other breast abnormalities one should not worry about. Here is what he shared with us.
About 10% of breast cancers cause breast pain or tenderness, although when lumps are painful, they are more likely to be benign. Other types of lumps found in the breast are:
- Fibroadenoma (solid, benign tumour most common in young women)
- Cysts (fluid-filled sacs in breast tissue that are usually benign)
- Breast fibro cysts (lumpy or fibrous breast tissue)
- Galactocele (typically harmless cyst filled with milk)
- Mastitis (a slow-growing doughy lump that is usually not harmful)
- Lipoma (an infection of the breast tissue that most commonly affects breastfeeding women)
Breast Lumps You Should Worry About
A breast lump or formation of tumour-like mass in the breast can be an indicator of having breast cancer. Most lumps are not dangerous, but it is important to see your doctor to get them evaluated quickly. If you have an underlying breast condition, you may notice changes in how your breasts normally feel, such as a round, smooth, firm lump in your breast, a large, firm lump that moves easily under your skin, a hard, irregularly shaped lump in your breast. In some cases the symptoms for breast cancer may not appear early.
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Similarly, the aforementioned symptoms may also be an indicator of non-cancerous lumps as well. That is why it is necessary to consult your doctor as soon as any changes seem apparent in your breasts. Breast cancer can be present as any of the following unusual changes, including swelling of all or part of the breast, skin irritation or dimpling, breast pain, nipple pain or inverted nipple, redness, scaling or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, nipple discharge other than breast milk and a lump under the arm. You may notice a change in the size and shape of your breasts or discharge from your nipples.
Ways to Detect Non-Cancerous Breast Lumps
The easiest technique to detect breast changes is to perform a monthly breast self-examination. You should have a physical exam along with a mammogram every year if you are over 40 or at high risk for breast cancer. Your chances of successful therapy are higher the earlier breast cancer is discovered and diagnosed.
Non-cancerous lumps like Fibroadenomas are firm, smooth, non-malignant (benign), which most commonly occur in women in their 20s and 30s. They can develop at any age and are the most common benign tumours in women. They are increasingly occurring in postmenopausal women using hormone therapy. The lump does not hurt, has a rubbery texture and is quite mobile and one can find it themselves. Fibroadenomas can develop anywhere in the breast tissue and can vary in size.
A breast abscess is an inflamed, painful lump in the breast caused by a pus-filled pocket.
In addition, a fluid-filled sac known as a cyst may form in the breast tissue. They often occur in women who are approaching menopause and are most common in women between the ages of 35 and 50. Cysts can be firm or soft to the touch. Cysts can feel like a large blister that is smooth on the outside but filled with fluid on the inside when they are close to the surface of the breast. Cysts that are covered by tissue will feel like hard lumps when they are deep in the breast tissue.
Treatment Of Non-Cancerous Breast Lumps
Non-cancerous lump treatment options Fibroadenomas often do not require treatment. But occasionally you may need surgery to remove a fibroadenoma that is expanding rapidly. You may not need surgery to remove a breast lump if imaging tests and biopsies reveal that it is a fibroadenoma. When deciding whether to have surgery, keep in mind that it may change the appearance of your breasts, that fibroadenomas may shrink or disappear on their own, or that they may remain unchanged.
Your doctor may recommend surgery if the results of an imaging test or biopsy raise any warning signs. Additionally, if the fibroadenoma is large, growing rapidly, or causing symptoms, surgery may be necessary. The standard of care for large fibroadenomas and phyllodes tumours is surgery.
Not every lump is a breast cancer, however, one should always consult a doctor for confirmation and get regular screening to stay one step ahead of breast cancer. Your doctor should examine any breast lump that is new, persistent, or changing. The difference between benign and malignant breast tumours can occasionally be determined using mammography and ultrasonography.
However, when a lump is aspirated with a needle, it is often only revealed to be a cyst when the fluid drains. Early treatment is recommended if there is a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. Targeted or 3D ultrasound may be added to evaluate particularly dense breasts that are difficult to assess with physical examination and mammography.