If You Find a Lump…
Don’t panic! Easier said than done, right? Only one out of 12 breast lumps turn out to be cancerous, says Susan M. Love, M.D., clinical professor of surgery at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.
What Could It Be?
A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops most often in women in their 40s or 50s. It’s harmless but can be painful. Your doctor may be able to tell it’s a cyst by feeling it, but if it’s deep, it can feel hard like a tumor and you’ll need to have an ultrasound, says Dr. Love. A cyst will usually go away on its own but the doctor can drain it if it’s painful.
A fibroadenoma is a benign solid tumor that is most common in women in their 20s and 30s. The cause is unknown but is likely due to hormonal ups and downs. Imaging can confirm that it’s not a cyst but you’ll need a needle biopsy to determine if it’s benign or malignant. For most women, a fibroadenoma goes away on its own. If there’s any doubt about whether it’s cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove it so the entire tumor can be analyzed.
A malignant tumor also feels like a hard lump. The only way to discern if your lump is malignant or not is to have a biopsy. Ask about a core-needle biopsy, which is more reliable than a fine-needle biopsy because the doctor takes a larger chunk of tissue for analysis.
Remember, still call your doctor; every lump should be checked out!