Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women worldwide. The key to successful treatment is early detection. To that end, self-examination is essential to any woman’s health regimen.
At some time, you might feel a lump in your breast when checking for breast cancer at home. While that may not always mean it’s a breast cancer lump, it might be cancerous. A breast lump is a mass that forms in your breast. A breast lump may indicate breast cancer, but it frequently has no connection to the disease. Breast lumps that are eight out of ten are not malignant. Consult your healthcare practitioner if you discover a lump in your breast. Your healthcare professional will identify the underlying causes of the breast lump and decide whether further testing or treatment is necessary.
Examining Breast Lumps
Knowing how to check for breast lumps will help you catch any change in your breast health early on. Self-examination is an important way to detect breast lumps. Women should self-exam their breasts once a month, preferably at the same time each month. You should also look for any changes or abnormalities in the breasts. This includes lumps, thickening or dimpling of the skin, redness, swelling, or changes to the nipple, such as discharge or inversion.
Using a Mirror
One of the common ways to check for breast lumps is to look in the mirror and visually inspect the breasts. Look for changes in shape or texture, such as indentations in the skin, skin dimpling, or redness or swelling. Also, trace any changes in the nipples, including inversion or discharge.
Feel the Breasts With Hands
You should use a firm but gentle touch to feel all over the breasts, including the sides and armpits. Check for lumps, thickening, or hardened areas and any tenderness or discomfort.
Place one hand flat on top of the other and gently press down on the breast to check for any benign breast lumps or cysts that may be hidden beneath the skin.
Feeling With Your Fingers
Lie down and use your fingers to feel the breasts. Women should place a pillow under their shoulders and use the opposite hand to feel the breasts. Move the fingers in small circular motions around the breast, feeling for any lumps, abnormalities or changes in texture. If necessary, you can also have a breast MRI or breast reconstruction performed by a doctor if you experience any abnormal symptoms related to a possible breast infection or other breast problem.
You can also raise your arms over the head to stretch the skin of the breasts for it easier to feel lumps or abnormalities. You should also look in the mirror for any changes in the shape or texture of your breasts.
Remember that self-examination is not a substitute for regular mammograms and women should still visit their doctor for regular check-ups and mammograms. However, a breast self-exam is an essential tool in helping women detect any abnormalities or changes in their breasts early on at home.
What Does a Breast Lump Hurt Mean?
Breast lumps can appear anyplace on the breast, including the nipple and areola, underarms, and the chest wall. It is critical to keep in mind that not all breast lumps are visible. You can discover breast lumps during a self-exam or a professional exam with a doctor.
A painful breast lump does not always indicate that it is cancerous. Painful breast lumps can be caused by various factors, including trauma, infection, fibrocystic changes, or inflammation. If you discover a painful breast lump, consult your doctor immediately.
However, when it comes to cancerous breast lumps, they are frequently hard and painless, though some may be painful. If you find a hard lump in your breast that hurts, you should have it checked by a doctor.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cancerous Breast Lump
The followings are the signs and symptoms of a cancerous breast lump and their importance in early detection.
Changes in the Size, Shape, or Texture of the Breast
The size, shape, and texture should remain consistent. If you notice any changes in these areas, have them evaluated by a healthcare professional. These changes may include enlargement or shrinkage of the size, the shape may become asymmetrical, or the texture dimpled or thickened.
Discoloration of the Skin
Another sign of a cancerous breast lump is discoloration of the skin on the breast. You might see a red, inflamed, or scaly skin patch on the breast.
Nipple discharge that is not normal for the individual can also be a sign of a cancerous breast lump. It is usually a clear, yellow, or bloody discharge from the nipple. This should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Swelling, Pain, or Tenderness
If you notice any swelling, pain, or tenderness in the breast, arm, or armpit, it is important to have them evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Causes of Benign and Cancerous Breast Lumps
You should know the difference between the two lumps, as benign are not a threat to your health, whereas cancerous lumps can be dangerous if left untreated.
Causes of Benign Breast Lumps
Benign breast lumps are noncancerous growths that may be caused by various factors. Common causes of benign breast lumps include fibroadenomas, cysts, and fat necrosis.
- Cysts – Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form in the breast tissue. They can vary in size from very small to a few centimeters in diameter. Cysts are usually painless and can feel like a soft, round lump beneath the skin. Cysts are the most common cause of non-cancerous breast lumps.
- Fibroadenomas – Fibroadenomas are firm, elastic lumps made up of fibrous and glandular tissue. They are usually painless and can range in size from very small to a few centimeters in diameter. Fibroadenomas are commonly found in women between the ages of 20 and 30.
- Fat Necrosis – Fat necrosis is caused by an injury to the breast. This injury can cause the body to form lumps made up of fatty tissue. It is usually painless and can range in size from very small to a few centimeters in diameter.
Causes of Cancerous Breast Lumps
Cancerous breast lumps are usually painless, but they can feel hard and immovable. They may be caused by genetic mutations, exposure to radiation, or lifestyle factors such as smoking.
- Genetic Mutations – The most common genetic mutation is called the BRCA1 gene, which is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Exposure to Radiation – Exposure to radiation, such as radiation therapy, can cause cancerous growth in the breast. Radiation can damage the cells in the breast, causing them to grow and divide uncontrollably.
- Lifestyle Factors – lifestyle factors, such as smoking, can increase the risk of cancerous growth in the breast. Smoking can damage the cells in the breast, leading to abnormal cell growth.
If the lump on your breast is cancerous, it is important to understand your treatment options, including traditional vs. alternative breast cancer treatment plans.
Breast Cancer Trends in the US
The incidence of breast cancer in the US has been increasing over the last several decades. As of January 2022, there were over 3.8 million women diagnosed with cancer. From 2000, the incidence rate of breast cancer started decreasing. The mortality rate for breast cancer has also been decreasing. This can largely be attributed to the introduction of improved screening techniques and treatments.
Women aged 70 and up have the highest rate of breast cancer. This age group accounts for nearly 40% of all cases of breast cancer. Women aged 65 to 69 have the second highest rate of breast cancer, with over 42% of these women diagnosed. The age group with the lowest rate of breast cancer is women aged 20 to 34 years. They account for just 1% of all cases.
Certain factors can increase the risk of breast cancer. These include age, family history, genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Age is one of the most critical risk factors, as the threat of breast cancer rises with age. According to statistics, women with a family history of breast cancer are also at an increased risk, as are those with certain genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Lifestyle factors, such as alcohol consumption, being overweight, and not exercising regularly, can also increase the risk of breast cancer. Environmental factors including exposure to certain chemicals and radiation can also increase the risk of breast cancer.
There are measures to lower the risk of breast cancer. They include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding exposure to certain chemicals and radiation.
You should also be aware of any potential symptoms or signs of a benign lump, benign breast condition, breast mass or breast change as well as your family history and genetics and discuss potential risk factors with your doctor. Regular screening is vital for all women over the age of 40 including breast ultrasound to detect breast cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable.
At Immunity Therapy Center (ITC), we offer personalized natural remedies for breast cancer throughout Mexico. This includes alternative breast cancer treatments. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you could be seeking alternative treatment to help treat your body. Learn more about what to know about alternative treatments.
Our customized breast cancer treatment plans includes one or more natural alternative therapies. Each treatment plan is unique based on your overall health and cancer stage. We’re passionate about our services and are always ready to take your opinions. Contact us today to learn more about how we help improve the lives of our patients.
Written By: Dr. David Alvarez
Dr. David Alvarez is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Xochicalco and Certified by the American Heart Association (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support).
Dr. Alvarez has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista as an Assistant Medical Director at the Immunity Therapy Center for over 6 years. He provides daily on site patient care and participates on the medical board on research and development of patient treatment plans and programs. Dr. Alvarez is a knowledgeable and compassionate Doctor committed to helping patients get to where they want to be health wise through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
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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.