What Do Breast Cancer Lumps Feel Like

Most lumps in the breast are benign (noncancerous), and they feel different than a cancerous breast lump does. Benign lumps usually feel smooth, soft, and move from side to side. With cancer, a breast lump typically feels hard like a rock and is immobile when you push on it. The lump may also be irregularly shaped.

By Serenity Mirabito RN, OCN
Serenity Mirabito, MSN, RN, OCN, advocates for well-being, even in the midst of illness. She believes in arming her readers with the most current and trustworthy information leading to fully informed decision making.

Intraductal papillomas are tumors that begin in the milk ducts of the nipple and often cause nipple discharge. While these tumors are typically benign, they may be associated with an increased risk of cancer, particularly if there are regions of atypical hyperplasia (abnormal cells).

Mastitis is an infection of the breast experienced by many women who breastfeed. It is often accompanied by redness, swelling, and pain. In addition to home remedies, mastitis is treated with antibiotics.

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Performing a monthly BSE isn’t the preferred screening for breast cancer; a mammogram is. But BSE does help you to become familiar with your breasts so you can report any changes to a healthcare provider quickly.

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Although cancer risk is extremely rare with fibroadenomas, a biopsy may be warranted if the mass is large enough. Lumpectomy, radiofrequency ablation, and several other fibroadenoma treatments are available to remove the benign tumor.

According to a 2019 study in the International Journal of Cancer, women with benign breast disease (BBD) have an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the future. In addition, women with BBD, a family history of breast cancer, and genetic mutations have an even greater risk of developing breast cancer.

What Do Breast Cancer Lumps Feel Like

Your doctor usually treats mastitis with antibiotics. If needed, they’ll empty extra milk from your breast. If antibiotics don’t help you feel better within a week, talk to your doctor.

If you notice any changes on a breast self-exam, notify your healthcare provider.

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Galactocele. This milk-filled cyst can show up while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Doctors think it’s caused by a plugged milk duct. It feels like a tender or painful lump. Remedies like cool compresses, ice packs, or a supportive bra may ease pain. Your doctor can also treat a galactocele by draining it. You’ll need antibiotics if it gets infected.

Since it can take up to 72 hours to get biopsy results, the wait can be stressful. Maintaining your daily routine and focusing on health can be helpful during this time.

Mammograms have a black background with white and gray coloring to show breast tissue. Cancerous tumors typically show as a very defined, bright white spot, though dense breast tissue can make them harder to see. A radiology specialist is an expert in reading these imaging tests.

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Lots of conditions can cause symptoms like lumps, swelling, pain, or nipple discharge. Your doctor can find out what’s going on and make sure you get the right treatment.

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Treatments for a benign Phyllodes tumor include breast-conserving surgery (like lumpectomy or partial mastectomy) or removal of the breast (mastectomy). If the tumor is cancerous, you may need chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment.

A breast cyst is a benign, fluid-filled sac in the breast tissue. About 50% of women aged 30 and over develop breast cysts, also called fibrocystic disease. In some cases, these cysts can be painful and require aspiration (fluid removal) if the mass is large and is causing problems.

You might get several of these tumors farther from your nipple, which makes you less likely to have a discharge. Your doctor can remove papillomas with surgery.

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