When you feel a lump in your breast, it's understandable to be concerned. But don't jump to conclusions. Instead, take action i.e Call your doctor to find out what it is.
- Change in breast size or shape.
- Lump or contour change.
- Nipple discharge, particularly if blood stained or Itching
- Skin dimpling or skin changes (eg, thickening, swelling, or redness).
- Recent nipple inversion or skin change or other nipple abnormalities (eg, ulceration, retraction, or spontaneous bloody discharge).
- Axillary lump.
- Skin tethering.
- Ulceration or oedema
While some cancers are too tiny to feel, and most lumps aren’t cancer, self-exams are a proactive way to help take care of yourself.
Clinical Breast Exam
A clinical breast exam is a breast exam performed by a health care professional. It’s a basic part of women’s check-ups, starting at age 20.
A mammogram is a special type of X-ray taken to look for abnormal growths or changes in breast tissue.
Doctors sometimes use ultrasound images to check whether a breast lump is a cyst (a fluid-filled sac that is not cancer) or a solid mass.
MRI gives better information in dense breast.
Sampling removes part of abnormal tissue for tissue diagnosis.
Sentinel Node Biopsy
In a sentinal node biopsy, doctors check a few lymph nodes under the arm to see if cancer has spread into the lymph system. Learn what’s involved in a sentinel node biopsy.
On the other hand, all lumps are not cancers; however the possibility of cancer must always be considered, as approximately 10% of all breast lumps are finally diagnosed as cancer. Also, make sure you haven't fallen for any of these 8 myths about breast lumps.
Myth 1: A Breast Lump Is Probably Cancer
Most breast lumps women feel, 8 out of 10 are not cancer. It's more common for them to be a cyst (a sac) or a fibroadenoma (an abnormal growth that's not cancer). Some lumps come and go during a woman's menstrual cycle.
You can't tell what it is by how it feels.
"It's always important to know your own body and detect a change which may need to be evaluated,"
Myth 2: If You Have a Lump but Your Mammogram Is Normal You're Done
You may need more tests, such as an MRI, ultrasound, or follow-up mammogram, to take another look at the lump. You may also need to get a biopsy, which is when a doctor takes a small sample of the lump to test it.
Myth 3: Cancerous Breast Lumps Are Always Painless
Although breast cancers aren't always painful, having doesn't rule out cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer - which has early symptoms such as redness, swelling, tenderness, and warmth in the breast -- can be painful when there is a lump.
Myth 4: If You Find a Lump While Breastfeeding, It Can't Be Cancer
Though breastfeeding does make you less likely to get breast cancer, it can still happen. If you notice a lump while you're breastfeeding, don't ignore it. You may get an ultrasound to check it out.
Myth 5: If You are Young, a Breast Lump Can't Be Cancer
At any age, you should get breast lumps checked out by a doctor.
Even though most women who get breast cancer are post menopauseor older than 50, a lump can be cancer, even in a younger woman.
Myth 6: A Small Lump Is Less Likely to Be Cancer Than a Large Lump
Breast lumps occurs in all sizes, and size doesn't affect the odds that it's cancer.Whenever you feel a lump that's new or unusual, even if it's tiny, see your doctor. Even small lumps can be aggressive cancers.
Myth 7: If You Feel a Lump Soon After a Mammogram, It's OK to Wait another Year
Call your doctor if you notice a lump soon after your latest mammogram, even if the results were normal. Mammograms can miss some cancers, especially if you have dense breast tissue or if the lump is in an awkward location (such as near your armpit).The doctor should only suggest a 'watch-and-wait' approach after the appropriate breast imaging has been normal and nothing suspicious can be felt.
Myth 8: A Lump Is Probably Harmless If There's No Breast Cancer in Your Family
Many women think they're not at risk for breast cancer if no one in their family has had it. But that's not true.Less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a relative who's had the disease.Get all lumps checked by a doctor, whether or not breast cancer runs in your families.