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What are breast lumps?

A breast lump is a mass in the breast that can vary in size and texture. They are sometimes painful and can feel like a knot, bulge or swelling around the breast or armpit area. Most of the time, breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). It’s normal for breast tissue to feel lumpy but if you notice any new lumps, or ones that stay after a menstrual period, it’s very important to visit a doctor and get an examination.

What causes them?

There are many causes of breast lumps. These can include:

How are the types of breast lumps diagnosed?

The first step is a physical examination by a doctor. A manual examination by a doctor cannot always detect the cause of the lump. Since it is important to rule out breast cancer, a mammography is normally the next step. This is a screening tool that uses X-ray imaging to detect signs of breast cancer.

An ultrasound is also useful in determining the type of breast lump. This tool can be used to distinguish between a cyst filled with fluid, or a solid lump. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are very effective and sensitive to small lumps in breast tissue. Often though, MRI is performed if the results of a mammography and ultrasound were not clear.

Treatments for breast lumps

There are various treatments available for breast lumps. After a doctor has evaluated and diagnosed the lump, the relevant treatment will be given: