Breast Masses: Cancerous Tumor or Benign Lump

Your doctor may order an extra test that takes pictures of the inside of your body. A breast ultrasound can help find cysts, fluid-filled sacs that most often aren’t cancer. You might get an MRI along with a mammogram as part of your routine testing if you have a higher risk of breast cancer.

This turns your body’s own disease-fighting powers against cancer. Drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors target certain proteins on immune system cells. They make it harder for cancer cells to evade attacks. Immunotherapy is sometimes used to treat advanced cancer.

Cancerous breast tumors tend to be fixed in place, but there are exceptions. So it’s always a good idea to check with your health care provider when you discover a breast lump.

Breast Masses: Cancerous Tumor or Benign Lump?

A Visual Guide to Breast Cancer

Mammogram images: Normal, abnormal, and breast cancer

During a breast MRI, a contrast agent is injected into the bloodstream. When this contrast “lights up” a region on the image, the region is said to be enhanced.

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Breast pain can also be a symptom of cancer, but this isn’t common.

On a mammogram, benign tumors often appear round or oval ( ellipsoid ) with clear, well-defined edges.

In addition to paying attention to any changes in the way your breasts look, you’ll also want to note any unusual sensations—such as burning, numbness or tingling—that persist for more than a few days.

Breast Masses: Cancerous Tumor or Benign Lump

If you discover a lump in your breast or armpit area, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. In fact, there are quite a few common breast conditions that can cause cysts or other lumplike growths, and the vast majority of breast lump tissue that’s tested turns out to be benign (noncancerous). Even so, you should alert your doctor whenever you discover a lump in your breast.

In about 20% of patients, breast cancer cells have too much of a protein called HER2/neu. It’s important to know whether a tumor is HER2-positive, because there are special treatments for this type of cancer.

Instead of reconstruction, you can be fitted for a breast form. This is a breast-shaped prosthesis that fits inside your bra. Wearing one allows you to have a balanced look when you’re dressed. Like the surgery, breast forms are often covered by insurance.

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These newer drugs pinpoint specific things inside cancer cells. For example, women with HER2-positive breast cancer have too much of a protein called HER2. Targeted therapies can stop this protein from making cancer cells grow. These drugs are often used along with chemo because they tend to have milder side effects.

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Breast Cancer Stages

Cancerous breast tumors cannot be completely prevented, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk. Being physically active and eating a diet with lots of whole foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, can reduce your risk of cancer. Getting recommended breast cancer screenings can help spot any cancers at an early, more treatable stage.

Your genes and stage of life, from puberty to menopause, can affect how your breasts develop, look, and feel. Self-exams each month may be helpful in identifying the lumps, but medical testing performed by a healthcare provider is needed to confirm a diagnosis.

What Does a Breast Cancer Lump Feel Like

Mammogram images: Normal, abnormal, and breast cancer

The earlier you find the disease, the easier it is to treat. Mammograms, an X-ray of the breast, can show tumors before they get large enough to feel. The American Cancer Society says women ages 45-54 with an average risk level should get a yearly mammogram. Starting at age 55, mammograms can be perfomed every 2 years. Continue them as long as you’re in good health. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says until you’re 50 you should talk to your doctor about your need for testing. After that, get a mammogram every 2 years from ages 50 to 74. You don’t have to stop at 75; the group just doesn’t assess the pros and cons. You can work it out with your doctor.

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Signs of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

There’s no doubt that cancer is a life-changing experience. The treatments can wear you out. You may have trouble managing daily chores, work, or social outings. This can make you feel isolated. It’s crucial to reach out to friends and family for support. They may be able to go with you to treatments, help out with chores, or just remind you that you aren’t alone. Many people choose to join a support group, either near them or online.

A lump that’s found in an armpit is likely to indicate swelling of a lymph node, and such swelling is sometimes the result of breast cancer that’s spreading (metastasizing). This type of lump can also be found around the collarbone when a patient has breast cancer.

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