Are all breast lumps dangerous?

Can you feel breast lumps or tenderness in them? Read on to figure out if they pose a breast cancer threat or not.
breast lump
Keep checking for breast lumps regularly Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Ritu Sethi Published: 26 Mar 2022, 04:23 pm IST
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With the cases of breast cancer rising increasingly in India as compared to the Western countries, it’s crucial we need to take care of our breasts as much as we look after other organs of the body. Self-examining and checking for any breast lumps and tenderness is crucial in understanding your health. According to the World Health Organization, in 2018, it was estimated that 627,000 women died from breast cancer globally – that is approximately 15 percent of all cancer deaths among women.

Breast lumps are no doubt a serious condition and could be the initial symptoms of breast cancer. But, one shouldn’t be worried about it because all the breast lumps are not cancerous. Particularly in younger women, breast lumps are a normal condition. However, one should get it evaluated by a doctor if it’s new and feels different.

How do breast tissues normally feel?

Our breasts are composed of tissues of various shapes, sizes and consistency. Some are fatty, glandular and connective tissue. During a woman’s menstrual cycle, these tissues also change thereby making the breast tender. Breast tissues also undergo modifications with age.

When do breast lumps need attention?

One should visit the doctor when:

  1. You find a new breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue.
  2. There is a change in the size, shape or appearance of the breast.
  3. Breast pain stays for a longer time.
  4. There is some change in the skin near the breast, such as itchiness, redness, scaling or puckering.
  5. The nipple has become little inverted
breast cancer
Breast cancer treatment needs care and caution. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Procedures to evaluate breast lumps

Your doctor might ask you to get some tests to get the confirmed result of breast lump.

  1. Mammogram
  2. Breast Ultrasound
  3. Breast MRI
  4. Breast Biopsy

Follow-up after the evaluation of breast lumps

If the breast lump isn’t cancerous, your doctor will decide if you need short-term monitoring with clinical breast exams or repeat breast imaging. You may have to see the doctor again in two to three months. The doctor will monitor again if there have been changes in your breast.

breast cancer
Self-examination can help detect breast cancer early on. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If the diagnosis is in question — the clinical breast exam and the mammogram show areas of suspicion, for example, but the biopsy reveals benign tissue — you’ll be referred to a surgeon or other specialist for further consultation.
If the breast lump is cancerous, you’ll work with your doctor to create a treatment plan.

The stage and type of breast cancer will decide the further treatment procedure. Generally, a surgery is performed if the lump is proven to be cancerous. Before performing the surgery, the expert will explain appropriate surgical options and provide you with the information necessary to make this decision. You may have several consultations with other physicians for additional treatment, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

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About the Author

Dr Ritu Sethi is a senior gynaecologist and obstetrician. She specialises in high-risk pregnancies, laparoscopic gynecological surgeries, infertility and reproductive endocrinology. ...Read More

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