What to do if you find a lump in breast

November 12, 2012

What to do if you find a lump in breast

Finding a lump in breast is probably one of the things feared most by women and is a common cause of a visit to the doctor’s office. Estimates suggest that as many as 50% of all women discover a lump in breast at some stage of their life.

It is essential that each woman spends some time each month carrying out a self-examination of their own breasts in order to familiarise themselves with their make-up and so be aware of any changes that may take place. If a woman feels that any changes are giving her cause for concern, particularly as she ages, these changes should be investigated in order to rule out the possibility of breast cancer.

What is a lump in breast?

A breast lump is a swelling or thickening of tissue in or around the breast – it may be malignant or, more commonly, benign. The causes of a lump in breast are many and varied -

  • Fibro adenoma or cysts

  • Infection

  • Inflammation

  • Papilloma

  • Fibrocystic disease

  • Periductal

  • Tumour

  • Hormonal changes such as those that naturally occur during the menstrual cycle

Any woman who discovers a

lump in breast

that fails to disappear should seek the advice of her medical practitioner who may well advise further screening in the form of a mammogram.

Self-examination

Carrying out a monthly self-examination of the breasts should be a regular part of every woman’s routine; it should be done at the same time every month in order to avoid mistaking those regular hormonal changes of the body and breast for something more sinister and worrying.

Using the fingertips the whole of the breast should be carefully examined from the nipple out to the underarm area – if you have any doubts about how to do this seek the advice of your medical professional who will be only too pleased to show you the correct procedure. Should you find a lump in breast you should make an appointment at the doctor’s office for further examination.

Biopsy

Most lumps in breast are found to be benign however in order to rule out any possibility of a malignant tumour your medical practitioner may send you for further tests including a mammogram – an imaging procedure of the breast tissue, and a biopsy. Biopsies fall into four categories -

  • Excision biopsy – the removal of the entire lump in breast and/or any suspicious tissue in the area
  • Incision biopsy – the removal of only part of the lump or tissue
  • Needle biopsy – this type of biopsy uses a fine needle to remove part of the lump, tissue or any fluid present
  • Core biopsy – this procedure uses a wide needle to remove the suspicious tissue, lump or fluid

Following the biopsy, the breast tissue will be examined by laboratory technicians and the results passed to the medical practitioner for discussion with the patient. The lab report will include the following information -

  • Diagnosis of the lump – whether it is benign or malignant
  • Size and location of the tumour
  • Condition of hormone receptors
  • HER2 status
  • Condition of the lymph nodes
  • Surgical margin
  • The grade and stage of any cancer found

It is well known that some women are more at risk for developing breast cancer than others – women with a family history of the disease are twice as likely to develop the condition as those with no such family history. Breast cancer also seems to occur more frequently in women who have never undergone childbirth or who had their children late in life. For these women the medical practitioner will, no doubt, recommend early screening for the disease and a different approach to the treatment of any lumps that do develop.

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