by | Mar 27, 2015 | Breast Cancer

It can be very frightening to find a lump in your breast, but don’t panic. A recent article in EverydayHealth.com explains that 80- 85 percent of breast lumps are non-cancerous, especially in women younger than 40.

If you are a woman who is proactive about her health and has annual mammograms that have been negative, odds are in your favor that the lump is not cancer according to EverydayHealth.com.

Question is, how do you differentiate between a lump that is breast cancer and one that is not?

The article goes on to explain that the make-up of breasts which include blood vessels, fibrous connective tissue and glandular tissue, are lumpy in and of themselves. A breast lump has specific features that distinguishes it from normal irregularities in that it can be solid and unmovable or soft and fluid-filled. The lump can also be smaller than a pea or several inches across.

Typically what differentiates a benign (non-cancerous) breast lump from a cancerous lump is movement. Fluid-filled lumps that roll to the touch are less likely to be cancer than a hard lump that is connected to the breast. However, this rule does not apply all the time and this is why you should always seek medical attention from your gynecologist when feeling anything abnormal in the breast. Tests such as mammogram, ultrasound, or even a fine needle aspiration used to extract cells for biopsy may be necessary.

Cysts in the breast are common and are often felt during a menstrual cycle because they develop due to hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation. If the cyst disappears after your cycle it is a good sign that the “lump” was due to hormones. Some other benign breast lumps may come from lugged milk ducts, infections and possibly breast injuries. To be on the safe side, always consult with your doctor to be certain.

The article also refers to some of the most common benign breast conditions:

  • Fibrocystic Changes – Lumpiness that is described as ropy or granular. Symptoms include fibrous, rubbery breast tissue or a round, fluid-filled cyst.
  • Cysts- Round or oval fluid-filled sacs measuring 1-2 inches across and are tender to the touch. Cysts generally affect women between the ages of 35-50.
  • Fibroadenoma– This type of lump typically occurs in young girls and women in their 20’s and are more common in those who use birth control pills before the age of 20. It is usually small and it is movable under the skin feeling like a marble.
  • Fat necrosis– This type of benign lump occurs when fatty breast tissue is damaged by injury to the breast. It is more common in women with large breasts and particularly in women who are obese.
  • Nipple discharge– The color of benign nipple discharge can vary from yellow to green. If you have a bloody discharge more than likely it means injury, infection or a benign tumor. However, it is recommended to call your doctor immediately as this can be a sign of cancer.

The risk for benign breast conditions increases for women who have never had children and those with a history of irregular menstrual cycles and/or a family history of breast cancer.

Remember; it is always best to contact your doctor if you feel any type of lump in your breast so that a medical professional can assist you with the proper diagnosis and treatment plan.