You’ve just climbed out of the shower, and decide to do your monthly breast self exam—when you suddenly find a lump. It can be unnerving, but you should not panic; almost 85% of lumps are noncancerous (benign), particularly in women under 40. It is difficult to differentiate between a cancerous lump and a benign one; below, you will learn how to tell the difference.
Differences in Breast Lumps
A woman’s breast consists of blood vessels, nerves, connective and glandular tissues, as well as milk ducts. Breast lumps set themselves apart in a few ways. They can be solid and stationary, or fluid and soft; they can be small or large (but large lumps are fairly rare). The only real way to tell if a lump is cancerous or benign is to get it tested at a center for women’s health in Melbourne FL.
Benign Lumps and Their Causes
Most benign conditions causing lumps are menstrual cycle-related; fluctuations in hormones and water retention can cause them. Other benign conditions can be related to infection, injury and plugged milk ducts. Below are more common benign conditions:
* Fibrocystic changes: Affecting about half of the female population, signs of these changes include fibrous, tender tissue, or round cysts filled with fluid. These changes are hormonal in nature and can increase as middle age approaches.
* Fibroadenomas: These most commonly occur in women who used birth control before the age of 20. Benign tumors range in size from too small to see, to several inches; they are usually hard but movable, and diagnosed by removal or aspiration.
* Fat necrosis: It occurs when the breast is injured; firm, round lumps form. Fat necrosis is much more common in obese or large-breasted women, and doctors typically observe the lump through multiple menstrual cycles. Surgical removal is often recommended.
* Mastitis: This milk-duct infection can result in fever, accompanied by a warm, red and lumpy breast. It is most common in breastfeeding mothers, but can occur in non-nursing women as well and is normally treated with antibiotics and warm compresses.
The risk for benign conditions is higher if you have never given birth, have a hereditary cancer history, or have a history of irregular menstruation. If you find a lump in your breast, you should make an appointment with a doctor specializing in women’s health care in Melbourne FL even though there is a high chance that it will go away on its own.