While performing a routine self-check, you notice a breast lump. Immediately, you’re scared and thinking the worst: cancer.
Before becoming too worried about a breast lump, remember that breasts are made up of fat 1, nerves, connective, and glandular tissue and blood vessels. They also have a milk-producing system known as lobules and the ducts. Because of this, breasts are known to be uneven and lumpy. If you’ve noticed a new breast mass or cyst, it’s essential that you visit your doctor for a mammogram. While your doctor can first do a physical breast exam, a mammogram or breast ultrasound scan will be needed to study the breast mass further. If the doctor is still concerned with your breast tumor, they will then do a breast biopsy to definitively diagnose cancer.
We often get asked how big are breast cancer lumps or where are breast cancer lumps usually found. Breast cancer lumps vary in size, shape, and location and most lumps turn out to be entirely benign. For peace of mind, it’s safe to have all unusual and irregular lumps checked by a doctor or healthcare professional after checking for breast cancer at home— and to keep in mind when you find a new one, that all lumps certainly are not cancerous.
Whether you’ve found a lump or are just curious about what to look for, read on. The more knowledge you arm yourself with, the better you’ll be at deciding whether or not it’s time to call the doctor.
How Do You Check for Breast Lumps?
According to nationalbreastcancer.org 2, there are a few different ways to effectively perform a breast self-examination.
You can do a breast exam when you’re in the shower, which many women find to be easiest. Use the pads of your fingers, moving them in a circular motion around the breast. Move from the outside to the center, across the entire breast and the armpit area. Check both breasts to feel for lumps or hard knots.
If you’re checking for lumps in front of a mirror, stand with your arms at your side to visually evaluate. Raise your arms over your head to look for a breast change in shape or an abnormal lump. Look for swelling or dimpling of the skin as well as changes in the nipples. Next, press your palms into your hips to flex your muscles. Chances are the breasts won’t match perfectly in size, but you’ll want to look for changes in breast size, dimpling or puckering.
And finally, you can check for lumps when you’re lying down. Breast tissue spreads along the wall of the chest when you’re lying down, which makes it easy to check for irregularities for lumps. Place a pillow under your shoulder and your corresponding arm behind the head. Take your head and move the pads of the finger alongside the breast, going in circular motions across the entire breast and the armpit area. As a good rule of thumb, change the pressure as you do so, using varying amounts of light, medium, and firm. Check for nipple discharge and repeat with your other breast.
It’s good for Breast Cancer self-examinations to become part of your monthly wellness routine. It will help you get to know your body, so you can tell when something changes. It’s similar to how people check their skin regularly to see if there are changes in moles or freckles. Breast health is no different!
What Does it Mean if a Breast Lump Hurts?
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation 3, breast pain refers to any discomfort, tenderness, or pain in the breast or underarm region. It may occur for several reasons and most likely, breast pain is not a sign of breast cancer. Certain medications can cause breast pain, and so can lumpy breast tissue. Fibrocystic breasts may be more painful during certain times of the month and contain lumps of fluid-filled cysts (rather than a mass of cells). Breast lumps can be caused by infections, non-cancerous growths, and injuries.
When it comes to cancerous breast lumps 4, lumps are often hard and painless, though some might be painful. If you’ve found a hard lump in breast that hurts, it’s best to get it checked by a professional. Nothing is worse than feeling anxious or uncomfortable with something in your body and action alleviates the worries.
Typically, How Big Are Breast Lumps?
The sizes of breast lumps can vary greatly. A lump might be the size of a pencil eraser, or it could be a few inches in size (but this is rare). Depending on the type of what type of breast lump 5 it is, it will range in size. Again, it’s always good to get new lumps or irregularities checked out by a professional.
Where are Breast Lumps Usually Found?
Malignant breast lumps commonly develop from the mammary glands or ducts. About 50 percent 6 of them appear in the upper, outer quadrant of the breast. They extend into the armpit where the fatty tissue is thicker.
Symptoms and Signs
According to nationalbreastcancer.org 7 , this is a list of signs and symptoms to look for:
A Change in Breast or Nipple Appearance
- Unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling anywhere on the breast
- Unexplained swelling of the breast (especially if on one side only)
- Unexplained shrinkage of the breast (especially if on one side only)
- Recent asymmetry of the breasts (keep in mind it is common for women to have one breast that is slightly larger than the other)
- Nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted
- Skin of the breast, areola, or nipple that becomes scaly, red, or swollen
A Change in How the Breast or Nipple Feels
Nipple tenderness or a lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm area
A change in the skin texture or an enlargement of pores in the skin of the breast
A lump in the breast
A List of Questions & Answers
If you’ve found a lump in your breast, knowing the answers to the following questions will help your doctor. First, consider the size and location of the lump. What breast is it in (left or right?), what is the size estimate (the size of a raisin or an eraser?), and the location. It might help to think of the location in terms of the hands of a clock.
- When did you notice the lump?
- Does it hurt?
- Is it in one breast or both?
- Does the lump move or does it stay in one place?
- Where is the lump located?
- Does the lump feel hard?
- Is the lump tender to the touch?
- Is there a discharge from the nipple?
- Is there a dimpling of the skin?
- Is the lump painful?
- If so, describe the pain and rate the pain on a scale of 1-10.
- Does the lump go in line with your menstrual cycle?
- When was your last menstrual cycle?
- Do you have any history of cancer?
- Have you had breast biopsies in the past?
- Have you had a mammogram?
- Do you have a family history of cancer or breast cancer?
Causes of Benign Breast Lumps
There are a few different causes 8 for benign (or non-cancerous) breast lumps.
- breast cyst: a fluid-filled sac that can develop as the breasts change with age
- Fibroadenoma: a lump that sometimes develops during puberty and can occur at any age
- Intraductal Papilloma: a wart-like lump that develops in one or more of the breast’s milk ducts
- Fat Necrosis: a lump that forms when an area of fatty tissue is damaged
- Benign Phyllodes Tumour: a rare cause of breast lumps
Breast Cancer in the United States
In the United States, aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Approximately 12% of women will develop it at some point in their lifetime. We like to let patients know that the majority of lumps found in the breast are benign and not life-threatening. However, with those that are malignant, cancerous cells can travel and infect the blood or the lymph system, allowing the cancer to easily spread to other areas of the body. If the invasive breast cancer cells reach the lymph nodes, the cancer will likely metastasize in other areas of the body.
Make sure to perform routine breast cancer self-examinations and get familiar with your body to know when something isn’t right. When in doubt, get the lump checked.
According to the American Cancer Society 9 , in 2019:
- About 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 62,930 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the beginning stages of breast cancer).
- About 41,760 women will die from breast cancer.
Of these cases, the median age of patients with breast cancer is 62 years old.
At the Immunity Therapy Center, we offer natural treatments for breast cancer in Mexico. If you’ve found a breast cancer lump and have tested positive for breast cancer, you might be interested in alternative breast cancer treatment to help heal your body.
Our custom breast cancer treatment program will include one or more alternative therapies. Each treatment program is different depending on the overall health of the patient and the stage of cancer. With a commitment to attentive care, we adapt our therapy to your progress.
We’re passionate about what we do and would love to hear from you. Feel free to reach out today to hear more about who we are and what we do to change the lives of our patients.
To Learn More About Alternative Breast Cancer Treatment at Immunity Therapy Center You Can Watch This Video From Dr. Bautista Himself
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.