Breast mass; Breast nodule; Breast tumor
Lumps in a woman are most often either fibroadenomas or cysts, or just normal variations in breast tissue known as fibrocystic changes.
Fibrocystic changes are painful, lumpy breasts. This is a benign condition that does not increase your risk for breast cancer. Symptoms are most often worse right before your menstrual period, and then improve after your period starts.
Fibroadenomas are noncancerous lumps that feel rubbery.
Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that often feel like soft grapes. These can sometimes be tender, often just before your menstrual period. Ultrasound can determine if a lump is a cyst. It can also reveal whether it is simple, complicated, or complex cyst.
Other causes of breast lumps include:
Both males and females of all ages have normal breast tissue. This tissue responds to hormone changes. Because of this, lumps can come and go.
Breast lumps may appear at any age:
A breast lump is swelling, growth, or mass in the breast.
Breast lumps in both men and women raise concern for breast cancer, even though most lumps are not cancer.
See your provider if you have any new lumps or breast changes. Ask about your risk factors for breast cancer, and screening and prevention for breast cancer.
Your provider will get a complete history from you. You will be asked about your factors that may increase the risk for breast cancer. The provider will perform a thorough breast exam. If you don't know how to perform a breast self-exam, ask your provider to teach you the proper method.
You may be asked medical history questions such as:
Steps your provider may take next include:
How a breast lump is treated depends on the cause.
Call your provider if:
Also call if:
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Liu J, Jacobs JK. The management of benign breast disease. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:657-659.
Swartz MH. The breast. In: Swartz MH, ed. Textbook of Physical Diagnosis: History and Examination. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 13.
Wolff AC, Domchek SM, Davidson NE, Sacchini V, McCormick B. Cancer of the breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 91.
Review Date: 11/26/2017
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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