Painful Lump in Breast

Eventually, the young girl starts to undergo the hormonal changes of becoming a woman and menstruation begins with development of breasts. These changes in the breast tissues will often include itching, pain, and other discomforts, particularly during the menstrual cycle. Sometimes lumps will develop and they can become tender or even painful, but this is actually fairly common and such developments are typically not related to cancer.

Possible Causes of Painful Lump in Breast

1.       Generalized Breast Lumpiness

Once known as fibrocystitis or fibrocystic disease of the breasts, it was eventually realized this condition is so common and it's, in fact, considered normal. Characterized by many nodular lumps in the breasts or varying areas of thickness in certain areas of the breast, painful lump in the breast can also feel as though there are clusters of small bumps which are tender to touch. There is typically a tendency for this to flare up during the menstrual period or pregnancy and is considered completely normal. Hormone therapy will also exacerbate this condition. Though it can be chronic, it often abates after menopause. With consistent breast exams, you can assure that none of these lumps are cancerous, as they are often benign.

2.       Cysts and Abscess Lumps

  • Cysts are basically sacs of fluid found in soft tissues of the body. Typically, they are only about an inch or two in diameter, if not smaller. They feel rubbery or smooth upon palpation and are atypical in women under the age of 50. When found in the breasts, they can be particularly painful. There is no relation between breast cysts and cancer of the breasts. Physicians can drain or remove cysts.
  • Sebaceous cysts occur at the site of the skin when sebaceous ducts at hair follicles become blocked. The result is an internal sack which swells with sebum, or sebaceous fluid. Though generally not painful, sometimes they can press on certain nerves and become blindingly painful. When such symptoms are caused, physicians will incise the skin and remove the entire cyst to avoid re-growth
  • Abscesses can be a painful situation and always indicate infection. They are one of the ways the body will contain an infection, say, at the site of the breast. This would be an example of painful lump in breast. There may be an accompanying fever with overall illness and malaise. Antibiotics are typically prescribed and surgery is frequently needed to drain the pus from the abscess.

3.       Fat Necrosis

Necrosis means "death of tissue," so the connotation is generally not a favorable one. However, in this case it would be a potential cause of a painful breast lump. The fat cells in the breasts will become inflamed and altered to form into round lumps which are typically firm upon palpation. The necrosis will typically occur after a firm, bruising impact to the area or some other type of injury in the chest. It may take weeks for fat necrosis to form after an injury occurs.

4.       Adenomas

Another type of lump which will show up in the breasts of younger women is a fibroadenoma. Adenomas are fairly common growths in glandular tissues. They even occur in the testicles of men, where they are entirely more painful. These lumps present as smooth, round, firm, and have defined borders with minimal movement upon palpation. They shift a bit in size with the menstrual cycle and are completely harmless and typically painless.

5.       Blood Clots

The medical name for a blood clot in a vein, which can actually be an immensely painful condition sometimes, is thrombophlebitis, and it will often feel like a firm lump. Typically affecting larger veins crossing the chest from areas under the arms, there will often be redness and pain in the breast area causing painful lump in breast, warmth, with lumpiness along the vein. Such clots are rare, but they should be attended to by a physician.

Could It Be Breast Cancer?

Considering this rather broad question, the general answer is "yes, it could be." The key word in this answer is, "could." This means it is a possibility. This is why breast exams first aim to find a lump in the breast.

However, most lumps in the breast, in fact 90 percent found in women between the ages of 20 to 50 years old, are benign. Painful lump in breast usually does not mean breast cancer. It is more often newer, painless lumps that are more cause for concern.

Early signs for real breast cancer include the following:

  • Intractable breast pain
  • Nipple shape changes
  • New lumps which persist even after period changes
  • Discharge from the nipples
  • Swelling and redness, rashes, or other skin irritations at the breast
  • Lumps and swelling at the collarbone or lumps under your arm
  • Any lumps which are hard and have irregular edges

Signs indicative of later breast cancer:

  • Nipple retraction
  • Singular breast enlargement
  • Superficial breast dimpling
  • Lumps which grow larger
  • Skin which presents a texture similar to that of an orange peel
  • Pain in the vaginal area
  • Extreme weight loss, unexplained
  • Armpit lymph nodes which are enlarged
  • Extreme vein visibility on breasts

These symptoms do not mean you have cancer. They mean you need to check with a physician because they are indications of possible breast cancer.

When to See Your Doctor

You should see your doctor if you find any new breast lumps, especially if pain does not reduce after your next period or if a lump which was already present becomes larger or develops irregular edges or other changes. If you notice dimpling, puckering, skin changes, or redness on your breast or breasts, or even nipple inversion, it will be critical to consult a physician. If you see any discharge and you are not pregnant,again, see a doctor.

How Your Breast Normally Feels

Texture of breasts can vary from person to person but generally feels firm to fatty with a slight rope-like consistency with minor nodular consistency. The main tissue is fatty and soft. Breast tissue changes through hormone cycles, often becoming swollen and tender during menstrual cycles. As age progresses, breasts increase in fat and often become larger. When irregular lumps form and painful lump in breast becomes an issue, doctor exams will help ensure the tissue remains healthy and disease is avoided.

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