Breast Diseases

Breast Diseases

Breast Lump

A breast lump is a growth of tissue that develops within your breast. Finding a lump in your breast can be frightening and provoke anxiety. Most breast lumps aren't dangerous, but it's important to see your doctor to have them evaluated promptly.

Breast tissue normally might feel lumpy or ropy and you may have tenderness that comes and goes with your menstrual period.

If you have an underlying breast condition, you might notice changes in how your breasts normally feel, such as:

  • A round, smooth and firm breast lump
  • A large, solid-feeling lump that moves easily under your skin
  • A hard, irregular-shaped breast lump
  • Skin redness or dimpling like an orange
  • Changes in breast size or shape
  • Fluid leaking from your nipple

Breast pain

Breast Pain can result from:
Reproductive hormones:

Cyclic breast pain appears to have a strong link to hormones and your menstrual cycle. Cyclic breast pain often decreases or disappears with pregnancy or menopause.

Breast structure:

Noncyclic breast pain often results from changes that occur in the milk ducts or milk glands. This can result in the development of breast cysts. Breast trauma, prior breast surgery or other factors localized to the breast can lead to breast pain. Breast pain may also start outside the breast — in the chest wall, muscles, joints or heart, for example — and radiate to the breast.

Fatty acid imbalance:

An imbalance of fatty acids within the cells may affect the sensitivity of breast tissue to circulating hormones.

Medication use:

Certain hormonal medications, including some infertility treatments and oral birth control pills, may be associated with breast pain. Also, breast tenderness is a possible side effect of estrogen and progesterone hormone therapies that are used after menopause. Breast pain may be associated with certain antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants.

Breast size:

Women with large breasts may have noncyclic breast pain related to the size of their breasts. Neck, shoulder and back pain may accompany breast pain due to large breasts.

Breast surgery:

Breast pain associated with breast surgery and scar formation can sometimes stay safter incisions have healed.

Nipple discharge

What may cause nipple discharge:
  • Abscess
  • Birth control pills
  • Breast cancer
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Excessive breast stimulation
  • Fibrocystic breasts (lumpy or rope-like breast tissue)
  • Galactorrhea
  • Injury or trauma to the breast
  • Intraductal papilloma (a benign, wartlike growth in a milk duct)
  • Mammary duct ectasia
  • Mastitis (an infection in breast tissue that most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding)
  • Medication use
  • Menstrual cycle hormone changes
  • Paget's disease of the breast
  • Periductal mastitis
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding
  • Prolactinoma

When to consult your doctor

When to consult your doctor

Being familiar with how your breasts normally feel makes it easier to detect when there's a change in your breasts.

Consult your doctor if:

  • You find a new breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • You notice a change in the size, shape or appearance of your breast
  • Breast pain doesn't go away after your next period
  • You notice skin changes on your breast, such as itchiness, redness, scaling, dimpling or puckering
  • You have a newly inverted nipple
  • You notice spontaneous nipple discharge

What to expect during a clinical breast exam

What to expect during a clinical breast exam

Evaluation of a breast lump typically begins with a clinical breast exam. During this exam, your doctor will likely:

  • Ask about symptoms and your risk factors for breast cancer or benign breast conditions
  • Examine your breasts and lymph nodes in your armpit, feeling for any lumps or other abnormalities
  • Examine the skin on your breasts
  • Check for nipple problems, such as inversion or discharge

If your doctor confirms that you have a breast lump or other area of concern, you'll likely need testing.

Procedures to evaluate a breast lump

To further evaluate a breast lump, you might need a:
Diagnostic mammogram.

This specialized breast X-ray helps your doctor investigate suspicious breast changes. It takes X-ray pictures from several angles.

Breast ultrasound.

Sound waves create images of the inside of your breast on a monitor. Ultrasound imaging is helpful for determining whether a breast lump is solid or filled with fluid.

Breast MRI.

An MRI machine uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of the interior of your breast.

Breast biopsy

You might have a tissue sample removed and examined under a microscope (biopsy). Ultrasound or mammography might help guide the needle, and a local anesthetic might be used. Breast biopsy options include:

  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy.

With a thin needle attached to a syringe, cells and fluid are removed from the suspicious area.

  • Core needle biopsy.

A larger needle with a special tip is used to remove a sample of breast tissue.

  • Stereotactic biopsy.

Mammography produces images of the area in question from several different angles (stereo images). Your doctor then removes a sample of breast tissue with a needle.

  • Vacuum-assisted biopsy.

A probe connected to a vacuum device removes a small sample of breast tissue.

After a biopsy, the tissue sample is sent to a lab for analysis. Your doctor will let you know when to expect the test results and will discuss them with you when they're available.

Breast Cancer Risk factors


Simply being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer.

Although women have many more breast cells than men, the main reason they develop more breast cancer is because their breast cells are constantly exposed to the growth-promoting effects of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Men can develop breast cancer, but this disease is about 100 times more common among women than men.

Breast cancer prevention

What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?
Limit alcohol.

The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer.

Don't smoke.

Evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women.

Control your weight.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.

Be physically active.

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps prevent breast cancer.


Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.

Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy.

Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer.

Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution.

Medical-imaging methods. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

Early Detection is the Key

Mammograms play a central part in the early detection of breast cancer because they can detect changes in the breast that may be early signs of cancer, but are too small or subtle to be felt.

The use of digital mammography has greatly enhanced the ability to detect breast cancers at earlier stages and are a must for women with dense breast tissue. Remember that an annual mammogram is one of your best defences against breast cancer.

Treatment for breast cancer

Treatment for breast cancer

Treatment for breast cancer is unique to each patient and may include one or more of the following:



Systemic Therapies:
  • Anti-Estrogen Therapies
  • Anti-HER2 therapies
  • Chemotherapy


18 November 2019