Lumps In Breast Evaluation - Facts You Need to Know - Breast cancer: Lumps, Causes And Treatment

Lumps In Breast Evaluation - Facts You Need to Know

Lumps In Breast

Many women will not perform self breast exams for the sole reason of fear. Fear that occurs when they find a lump. 8 out of 10 lumps in breast are benign and the following article describes how health care providers decide whether a lump in breast is benign or not.


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Lumps In Breast

What should a woman do when she discovers a lumps in breast?

It is important to see a health care provider as soon as possible. There are several factors which can be pertinent to causes of breast lumps such as:
• Date of last menses (if you are still menstruating) as benign breast lumps are often more prominent just before the menses.
• Important factors which can contribute to breast nodules are whether there has been any recent trauma to the breast, such as a fall, punch, bite or other blows to the breast tissue. Many patients develop bruising after letting a small pet play on their chest while laying down and this bruising can also be in breast tissue, causing a lump-like swelling.
• Additionally, it is important for the examining provider have information regarding whether a woman is breast feeding, as a localized infection (mastitis) can cause lump or mass like abnormality.

After a lumps in breast  are evaluated, usually an imaging test is ordered to decide whether a lump is worrisome or not. If a woman is younger than 35-40 and has not had any pregnancies, most likely the first test is an ultrasound. This can determine if the lump is solid or cystic. Not all solid lumps are cancer, most cystic lumps are not cancer. An ultrasound can also determine if there is an abnormal collection of calcifications which could indicate a more benign cause of breast cancer. Mammography is often the next study to be ordered if the ultrasound results are worrisome, however this is not the best first test in this younger age group due to the dense nature of breast tissue at this age. If, however, a woman has had several pregnancies and has breast fed, the breast tissue may be less dense and a mammogram would then be more helpful.
If a woman is over 40, the first test ordered is often a mammogram with an ultrasound to follow if needed to further evaluate an area. The mammogram in this case would most likely be termed a diagnostic mammogram which gives more detail. Likewise the digital mammogram also gives more detailed and may be the modality that many radiologic practices are using. An ultrasound may be done to further characterize of define the lump if a mammogram cannot do this for some reason.

In most cases, the investigation ends here. If however, the lump has some suspicious characteristics such as an irregular shape, ill defined borders, extra calcifications around it, or if it seems to have a far amount of blood vessels going to and from it; then a biopsy may be suggested. 

Sometimes, this biopsy is done by the radiologist; however more often than not, a breast surgeon will biopsy or even remove the lump to evaluate the cells microscopically. A simple biopsy is sometimes felt to actually help spread a potential cancer by accidentally allowing some cells to escape as the biopsy needle is removed from the area in question.

Having a lumps in breast  are very frightening in both its discovery and in the evaluation process. For this reason, the recent mammogram guidelines were issued with the intent to decrease unnecessary evaluation and worry over benign lumps in breast. 

These are guidelines only, and their purpose is to help guide you in your decision process on breast cancer screening. These guidelines are meant to be discussed with your medical provider, many of whom believe they are too lax. They do however give some thought on how to approach screening with out undue cost and worry. The difficult conundrum is that breast cancers caught early can often be treated with less disfigurative surgery and scarring and better chance at preventing spread.

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