Written By: Jamie Patterson, MD, Medical Director, The Breast Health Center at Kent Hospital on August 12, 2020
Don’t panic. You don’t know what you’re dealing with until you’ve seen your doctor and have more information. Women often find lumpy parts of their breasts that can be attributed to normal hormonal changes, dense breast tissue, cysts, benign growths or even parts of their normal anatomy like their ribs underneath their breast tissue or the edge of their breast, called the inframammary fold.
These normal changes can often be mistaken for a lump and can cause some real anxiety—so make sure you see your doctor right away first so they can help you determine if what you feel is really a lump.
Your physician may also want you to undergo breast imaging with a mammogram and/or ultrasound to help make that determination. These are important tests that will give you and your doctor a better idea of what you’re feeling.
Other associated symptoms will also help your doctor: whether the lump has changed in size or shape, if it’s associated with a rash or other changes to your skin, or whether you’ve had have any pain or nipple discharge on that side.
Other risk factors such as your age and family history will also be taken into account. If the lump can be explained, you may not need anything further than follow up breast exams with your doctor, or repeat imaging to ensure nothing changes. But if your doctor is worried or imaging shows a concern, you’ll most likely be asked to undergo a needle biopsy for a more definitive diagnosis.
If you’re ever concerned, you can always request your doctor consider one of these imaging or biopsy tests to be sure.
The main thing to remember is, not all lumps are cancer.
In fact many are non-threatening or even normal, so while you definitely want to get evaluated, be sure you speak with your doctor before you let your worry keep you up at night.
Don't let the fear of the unknown stop you from taking the first steps. Our comprehensive care teams at both Kent Hospital and Women & Infants are here to help you in your journey, wherever that may take you.