What is a breast lump?
A breast lump is a mass that has developed in the breast.
Many women have lumpy breasts. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture. Some women have lumpier breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry. If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then it’s probably normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel like a change are a concern and should be checked.
Where are breast lumps commonly found?
It is commonly found in the breast tissue but can occasionally present in the armpit.
Who is affected by breast lumps?
Most commonly affect women but men can develop breast lumps too.
Men have small amounts of breast tissue behind the nipples which can develop over time. This is a condition called gynaecomastia which can be due to various conditions (such as liver problems, kidney disease) and medications.
Furthermore, although uncommon, men can develop breast cancer too! We encounter 1 man out of every 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Why do breast lumps occur?
Most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). In fact, only 1 cancer is picked up in every 10 women who presents with a breast lump.
Benign (non-cancerous) causes of breast lump:
Benign phyllodes tumour
Causes of “breast lumps” which do not originate from the breast could include sebaceous cyst, lipoma, haemangioma, amongst other things.
How are breast lumps assessed & treated?
All breast lumps are assessed by triple assessment.
A triple assessment involves a three arm assessment to confirm the cause of the lump.
The arms are:
Clinical assessment: taking a proper history regarding the lump, personal and/or family history of breast cancer and clinical examination of the lump itself
Radiological assessment: breast ultrasound and mammogram
Pathological assessment: biopsy (rarely cytology)
When should we see a doctor?
In young women (less than 40 years old), it is not unreasonable to wait for one menstrual cycle to pass to see if the breast lump persists before seeing a doctor as one of the most common causes of breast lump in young women is breast cyst.
Although most breast lumps are benign, it can be hard to tell the difference between a cancerous lump and a non-cancerous lump. Hence it is important to see a doctor to have it evaluated as soon as possible. You can seek advice from our experienced doctor on the next steps, should you detect a breast lump.