What to Do If You Find a Lump in Your Breast

Aug 28 • 2015

Performing breast self-exams is one of the best things you can do to ensure a tumor is detected early. It is important to know that most lumps are not breast cancer (benign), but if you do find a lump or any other change in your breast or underarm area, it is important to see your doctor right away.

Because breast tissue has a naturally lumpy texture, if you’re feeling bumps throughout both of your breasts in their entirety, it is likely nothing to be concerned about. If you notice a lump that is harder than the tissue in the rest of your breast or feels like it has changed since your last self-exam, this could be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast issue, like a cyst. You should schedule an appointment with your family doctor if you notice these characteristics or are feeling unsure.

Other Signs of Breast Cancer

A lump in the breast or underarm is not the only sign of breast cancer. Other things to look for include:

  • Swelling, redness, darkening, or warmth of the breast
  • Pulling in of your breast or nipple
  • Sudden nipple discharge
  • Dimpled or puckered skin
  • Change in your breast’s shape or size
  • A rash or sore on the nipple
  • New, persistent pain in a localized area

If you are experiencing any of these issues, your doctor will likely ask you to come in for testing. An ultrasound, mammogram, or other screening test may be performed, followed by a biopsy if the tests confirm that it is not a cyst. When the diagnosis returns, next steps may vary. For non-cancerous issues, a treatment option may be put in place or your doctor may recommend doing nothing at all. For a cancerous tumor, an MRI will show the extent of the disease so a treatment plan can be developed.

Remember that the key to cancer survival is early detection. Make sure to perform self-exams regularly and speak with your doctor right away if you notice anything unusual.