Breast lumps and pain in breast
An insight into Cancerous vs Non-cancerous breast lumps
Most women in the age group of 20 to 50 experience a lump in their breast at some point in their life. A lump in the breast is an abnormal growth within the breast tissue. Though finding a lump in your breast could scare you. You could find peace in the fact that 90% of the lumps are caused by medical conditions other than breast cancer.
Breast cancer lumps are mostly painless. Besides being painless, a breast cancer lump could be hard and it could also have an uneven shape. Common symptoms of a breast cancer lump include – redness of skin, the skin could also be dimpled or pitted like the skin of an orange. The breast size, consistency and shape may change, or the patient may notice discharge from the nipple. If a lump persists for more than one to two months, one must visit a doctor and get it examined.
Non-cancerous breast lumps could be classified as - fibroadenomas, fibrocystic breast conditions and cysts.
Fibroadenomas are the commonest form of non-cancerous breast lumps. Though they can occur at any age but are most commonly found in women in their 20s and 30s. These lumps are painless, solid, smooth and firm and are rubbery to feel. Most of the fibroadenomas are not a cause of concern, but because they are painless like the breast cancer lump, it's important to get a persistent lump evaluated by a doctor.
In Fibrocystic breast condition the breast feels lumpy, tender, and sore. These lumps blend into the surrounding breast tissue. One needs to visit a doctor, if the pain persists and worsens over period or the lump becomes bigger.
Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast. These could appear closer to the surface of the breast or deep in the breast tissue. Closer to the surface cysts are like blisters and the deep ones are like hard lumps. These do not require treatment unless they become large, painful and/or uncomfortable and are persistent.
Is pain in the breasts a sign of Breast cancer?
The pain in the breasts is generally not considered as a sign of breast cancer except for in a very rare breast cancer condition known as Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC).
Most common form of breast cancer is the one which occurs in a regular pattern. It is related to the menstrual cycle and changing hormone levels. It usually affects both breasts, intensifies during the two weeks leading up to the start of the menstrual period and then eases out.
Women can feel constant or intermittent pain in their breasts during some underlying medical conditions. This settles down as the medical condition gets addressed.
At times, breast pain could be due to straining of the chest muscles or inflammation of the ribcage underlying the breasts.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), a rare but aggressive disorder accounting for 1% to 5% breast cancer cases can cause pain the breast.
Whatever be the reason, one needs to see a doctor if the pain occurs in a specific area, persists for a couple of weeks, gets worse over time and interferes with daily routine activities.