Types of non-cancerous breast lumps include fibroadenomas, cysts, and abscesses. Despite the fact that they are common and often harmless, it is always advised to see a doctor if you notice unusual changes or lumps. They will not always require treatment.
In order to understand the normal changes that happen to your breasts during your menses, and to be aware of any unusual lumps or changes, it is important to develop awareness by regularly checking yourself. If you are over 50 years old, regular breast cancer screenings are recommended every three years (usually with a mammogram).
Important changes to be aware of if you discover that you have an unusual breast lump, it is important to see a doctor in order to confirm the cause.
Things to be on the lookout for include:
- Thickening tissue in a part of the breast.
- Changes in size or shape of the breast.
- Change in appearance of the nipple (sinking or drooping, for example).
- Nipple discharge, with or without blood.
- Dimpling on the skin of your breasts (sometimes called ‘orange-peel skin’ due to the appearance).
- Nipple rash – on or around the nipple.
- Persistent pain in the breast or armpit.
- A lump or swelling in the underarm.
Breast lumps can be caused by a number of different things, and are most commonly due to hormonal changes that occur during your monthly menstrual cycle.
Normal breast tissue actually has a mildly bumpy texture, especially nearer the armpits. Sometimes changes in breast texture are due to fluid swelling into the tissues, to higher levels of oestrogen, which causes breast ducts to enlarge, or to higher levels of progesterone, which causes the glands to become swollen.
A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac, which grows when the connective tissue in the breast grows too quickly. Cysts are also thought to be caused by hormonal changes. They often disappear on their own, or can be drained if they are very large or painful.
What to do next
We know that finding a breast lump can be very distressing which is why we offer a same-day appointment with an experienced doctor for an examination and if needed, a further referral for an ultrasound. Most breast lumps are benign but until you have that confirmed, it is natural to feel anxious. Please call us to make an appointment – female doctors are available every day.
The first thing is not to panic. Eight out of ten breast lumps are benign, and breast changes are common in the week leading up to your period. Do make an appointment with a doctor to make sure that all is well.
A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac, which grows when the connective tissue in the breast grows too quickly. They are quite common and are thought to be caused by hormonal changes. They often disappear on their own, or can be drained if they are very large or painful.
Yes, it is incredibly common to have lumpy breasts. The trick is to examine yourself regularly, so that you become familiar with your own patterns and changes, and are able to recognise anything unusual.