What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Lumps

by Sharon Hopkins


A breast lump, also known as a breast mass is a swelling or a protuberance in the breast. However, these need not necessarily be the stuff of nightmares. Breast lumps form in the breast tissues of either sex and could be due to hormonal activity that affects the tissues. Many of these lumps appear and then disappear on their own.

Breast lumps can appear at any age. Even infants occasionally develop them because of the estrogen present in their mothers. These lumps will eventually clear away. Younger girls start developing breast buds around the time of puberty but this can occur as early as the age of six. Boys in their early teens may also develop breast lumps during mid-puberty and although it may produce some mental and emotional distress, it is nothing to worry about.

It is when breast lumps occur in adult women that care needs to be taken and a doctor consulted because of the possibility of cancer. The chance of a harmless breast lump being cancerous is possible, and hence knowledge of the causes of breast lumps and what they feel like can help calm the fears.

The causes of breast lumps include:

  • Fibrocystic Changes: Fibrocystic changes occur usually during a woman’s reproductive years and may affect the breast tissue in either or both the breasts. While fibrocystic lumps are benign and do not increase the risk of cancer, their presence can make the diagnosis of breast cancer more difficult. This is due to the fact that these lumps are similar in appearance and feel, to the cancerous ones.
  • Fibroadenomas: These are lumps that have a rubbery feel and can be moved easily. Similar to lumps caused by fibrocystic changes, they are usually not tender but on rare occasion have been known to turn cancerous.
  • Cysts: These are sacs filled with a fluid and feel soft, round and pliable. They can feel tender, especially during the time prior to the menstrual periods. These lumps can treated and drained in a doctor’s clinic. The color of the fluid is an indicative of its nature, whether benign or cancerous. The fluid may be sent to the laboratory for analysis.
  • Milk Cysts: These are sacs filled with milk that may become infected and turn into abscesses. Milk cysts usually occur in women who have just given birth or are breastfeeding.
  • Trauma: Any injury to breast tissue may cause a lump which usually subsides after a few days.
  • Lipomas: This is a collection of fatty tissue that forms a lump.
  • Intra-ductal Papilloma: These are caused by small lumps that develop near the areolas inside a milk duct. It usually affects women between the ages of 35 and 55 and is considered harmless. The only sign is a slightly reddish watery discharge which should be checked immediately.
  • Breast Cancer: Lumps that are cancerous can usually be detected with the help of a mammogram, ultrasound scans and then a biopsy. It is not a condition that is restricted to women and has been known to affect men on occasion.
Examine your breasts every month to check for any abnormalities such as lumps. If you detect a lump on your breast you should consult a doctor immediately. Once a diagnosis has been made you should follow the advice of your doctor. You can also take certain steps at home to help reduce the swelling or any tenderness you may experience. These steps include:

  • Birth control pills may help in cases of fibrocystic changes
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and chocolate
  • Limit your intake of alcohol
  • Limit the fat in your diet by cutting out on fatty meats and full fat dairy products
  • Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Supplement your diet with vitamin E, vitamin B complex and primrose oil supplements
You should consult your doctor before trying any of these suggested remedies.

Reference:
  1. http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/003155all.htm

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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