Pain or lump? Know all about breast-related issues from an expert

Published on: 23 April 2022, 19:51 pm IST
Have you noticed something different about your breasts recently? Keep an eye on these breast disorders, says an expert.
Dr Nanda Rajaneesh
Learn to detect breast related problems. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Be it pain, lumps or discharge – women can go through multiple issues related to breasts. It’s common knowledge that not not all the lumps that might be found in the chest are cancerous in nature, and some of them may be benign breast lumps too. What’s important is that we know about these breast disorders.

Most breast diseases encompass a spectrum of benign and malignant disorders. Whatever breast disorder is, the key goal of evaluating and examining is to mainly rule out the chances of cancer and address the symptoms.

You should be able to recognize any difference in your breast health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The evaluation requirement varies on the patient’s age, the type of clinical problem, and the risk factors.

Types of breast disorders:

1. Breast pain

Breast pain is one of the most common breast disorders for which women consult a doctor. The awareness about breast cancer and the concern about mastalgia is the main reason for the increase in people acknowledging the problem. Breast pain related to mastalgia is common in pre and post-menopausal women, and is a rare symptom of breast cancer. One needs to evaluate the breast pain through a physical examination. Most breast pain is associated with the menstrual cycle and is severe just before periods. Breast pain should be treated and taken care of very seriously.

2. Breast masses:

It is often difficult to determine what constitutes a dominant mass, especially in women just before menopausal. It is characterized by looking at how persistent it is throughout the menstrual cycle. The masses can be discrete or poorly defined, they do differ in the character from other breast tissues. The diagnosis of a dominant mass could be of different types which include, fat necrosis, macrocyst, fibroadenoma, prominent areas of fibrocystic change, or even cancer. Breast masses can be of two types, cystic breast mass, and solid breast mass. It becomes very important to consult the doctor if one finds any kind of lump in and around the breast.

Breast disorders can be of different types. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Nipple discharge:

It is most often due to a benign process. It is a common breast problem that has been reported in approximately 15 percent of women with benign breast disease and 4 percent of women with breast cancer. Evaluation of nipple discharge is done to determine if the discharge is physiologic or pathologic. The discharges for physiologic can be characterised only by compression and by multiple involvements. And these are mostly bilateral. And, if the discharge is spontaneous, or associated with mass, it can be classified as pathologic. These are unilateral and confined to a duct. Either way, the discharge could be clear, white, yellow, or dark green in colour.

Evaluation of breast disorders:

The doctors do ask about the symptoms that one has or any causes for any kind of breast disorders. If there is any breast lump, any thickness, change in size or shape, or redness can be some symptoms. One needs to know the way to evaluate or examine themselves:

Breast examination:

This can be done by oneself or the doctor would do the examination. One can do a self-examination. While taking a shower or getting dressed, look at the breasts, and check if there’s any change in size or shape. Or clasp the hands back of the head and hold them tight. This helps in noticing any change related to cancer. Or place the hands on the hips firmly, and push the shoulders and elbows forward, check if there is any change in the shape or contour. If there is any change found consult the doctor and explain the same to the doctor.

If the doctor finds any change, the individual could be asked to test by mammography, ultra-sonography, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Which would help in getting a clear idea of the growth or the change in shape or size in the breasts. The test checks for the breast abnormalities and evaluates the abnormalities which were identified, such as the lumps.

Also Read: Detect breast cancer early on with the help of a self-examination

Prevention is better than cure. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to prevent breast disorders

Breast disorders can be prevented mainly by exercising, having a healthy lifestyle, regularly doing the self-examinations of the breasts, and getting a mammogram screening regularly. If the individual notices any lumps, changes in size, or shape of the breasts, it is recommended to consult a doctor immediately and get a check-up done. Individual needs to explain all the symptoms and pains in detail to the doctor so that the doctor gets a clear idea of what the person is going through.

Dr Nanda Rajaneesh

Dr Nanda Rajaneesh, General and Laproscopic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Bangalore

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