Breast lumps in females occur in the form of solid mass developing in the breast which can be felt upon probing. However, some conditions can only be discovered with an imaging diagnosis and thorough physical examination. Breast lumps differ in shapes, sizes and textures. Some of the lumps cause severe pain. However, most of these lumps are not cancerous.
Different types of Breast Lump
There are different types of breast lumps. While most of them are benign (non-cancerous), a few of them can increase the risk factor of having breast cancer.
Fibrocystic is a non-cancerous lump that occurs due to the overreaction between hormones, breast tissue, mammary glands, and ducts during the procedure of ovulation.
In Fibrocystic changes, there are several, multiple small cysts, (lumpy, fluid-filled sacs, or pockets). It is one of the most common non-cancerous breast lumps in women.
Fibroadenoma is a common breast condition, which generally develops during puberty. It is not cancerous and is usually painless. Simple fibroadenomas are up to 3cm in size and look similar under a microscope. A fibroadenoma can grow more than 5cm in size. Despite being a generally benign condition, it is recommended to see a doctor when a breast lump is discovered.
Papillomas are wart-like lumps found beneath the layers of the mammary ducts near the nipple. Papillomas may cause nipple discharge or bleeding. It is not usually linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. However, cases of multiple papillomas as well as papillomatosis are associated with higher risks of the cancer.
What to do if you feel a lump?
If you find a lump in your breast, you should not panic because in most cases, it does not pose a serious health risk. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment, if needed.
If you have the following conditions, please make sure to consult a doctor.
- If you feel a lump in your breast
- If there is any deformation in the size, shape or appearance of your breast
- If there is any unusual Breast pain
- If there are any skin changes on your breast like itching, redness, dryness
- Change in your nipples
Breast Lump Diagnosis
The only way to diagnose breast cancer and related conditions is by doing a biopsy. This procedure involves making an incision and inserting a needle to retrieve all or a portion of the affected cells for sampling and testing to find out the root cause of its occurrence. If the sample lump turns out to be cancerous, the doctor will advise on the treatment options based on the biopsy results.
In the case of excisional biopsy (commonly known as lumpectomy or breast lump removal), only the abnormal tissue and a small part of the surrounding tissues are removed.
There are two surgical treatments to remove a breast lump.
Lumpectomy is one of the most common methods to remove non-cancerous breast lumps, especially if they are not big. In Lumpectomy, surgeons also take out a small number of breast tissues along with the lump, to make sure it does not grow again and to examine whether the tumor has not spread to the surrounding areas. If a surgeon suspects a cancerous condition, he/ she may opt to remove the lymph nodes in the armpit to assess how far the cancer has spread.
Mastectomy is the surgical treatment to remove the breast completely. It is a treatment option for breast cancer lumps. For advanced cases, a mastectomy may include the removal of chest muscles behind the breast.
What to expect after the surgery?
For different procedures, recovery time varies. The doctors will provide detailed instructions on what the patients should take note of after the surgery.
The aftercare should include:
- Rest and avoiding exertion for at least four weeks
- Light sponge baths until stitches heal
- Wearing a support bra or sports bra to avoid any injury
- Exercises recommended by the doctor