While performing a routine breast self-exam, you notice a lump. Immediately, you’re scared and thinking the worst: cancer.
Before becoming too worried about breast lumpiness, remember that breasts are made up of fat, nerves, connective tissue, glandular tissue, and blood vessels. They also have a milk-producing system known as lobules and 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, breast MRI, 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 determine if you have a benign breast lump or diagnose cancer definitively.
We often get asked how big breast cancer lumps or and where breast cancer lumps are 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 doing a breast self-exam 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 painful lump in your breast, are experiencing a different breast problem, 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, there are a few different ways to effectively perform a breast self-examination.
You can do a breast self-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 in breast lumpiness. 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.
As a young woman or at any age, 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, 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 a breast abscess or infection, non-cancerous growths, and injuries.
When it comes to cancerous breast lumps, lumps are often hard and painless, though some might be painful. If you’ve found a hard lump in your breast that hurts, it’s best to get it checked by a professional. If breast cancer is determined, there are alternative cancer therapies to consider, such as chelation therapy, amongst other options. 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 breast lump 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 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, this is a list of signs and symptoms to look for to diagnose cancerous lumps:
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)
- The nipple is turned slightly inward or inverted
- The Skin of the breast, areola, or nipple can become 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 painful 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 for a non-cancerous or benign breast lump.
- 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
Keep in mind that there are some types of breast cancers that are much more difficult to diagnose, such as inflammatory breast cancer, which can have similar symptoms to a benign condition, such as a breast abscess or mastitis.
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 cancer to easily spread to other areas of the body. If the invasive breast cancer cells reach the lymph nodes, 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, 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 in 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.
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.
- National Breas Cancer Foundation. Breast Anatomy. https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-anatomy
- National Breas Cancer Foundation. Breast Self-Exam. https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam
- National Breas Cancer Foundation. Breast Pain. https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-pain/
- Cancer. Breast Cancer Symptoms: What You Need to Know. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/breast-cancer-symptoms-what-you-need-to-know.html
- Stony Brook Cancer Center. Different Kinds of Breast Lumps. https://cancer.stonybrookmedicine.edu/breast-cancer-team/patients/bse/breastlumps
- National Breast Cancer. http://nationalbreastcancer.org
- breast Cancer Now. Breast lumps and benign (not cancer) breast conditions. https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/breast-lumps-benign-breast-conditions
- American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Breast Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/how-common-is-breast-cancer.html
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.