A regular breast self-exam is an invaluable method of early cancer detection. Feeling an irregular lump early on can save your life. But what does a lump in your breast feel like? When is it normal and when is there cause for concern? The answers to these and other questions follow.
Is It Normal To Have a Lump in Your Breast?
Is it normal to have a lump in your breast? When performing a breast self-exam, it might be challenging to discern between a normal and abnormal lump. This is because breast tissue itself naturally feels somewhat lumpy and sponge-like.
A breast lump should feel distinct and more noticeably solid than the rest of the breast tissue. It could vary in size from pea-sized to closer to a golf ball, and may or may not be movable. Normal breast tissue will feel like a consistent fibrous mesh throughout the breast.
Such lumps are typically painless, but can occasionally cause pain. They’re frightening, but fairly common.
What to Do If You Find a Lump in Your Breast
If you find a lump in your breast, what should you do? All breast lumps should be evaluated by a physician, even if most lumps are oftentimes benign. Any lump can potentially be cancerous, and biopsies and other screening tests are often required to confirm it.
Changes to features of the breast area are also signs to look out for. Some especially concerning signs include changes in the skin around the lump, nipple changes, and changes in lump size. A family history of breast cancer is also a factor to prompt an exam.
The physician will look over the features and characteristics of the lump for more information. They’ll look at the size of the lump and ask you whether or not it’s painful. Then, they’ll check if moves under the fingers or if it’s attached to the skin and if the skin is red, itchy, or inflamed. They’ll examine the lump’s impact on the area of the nipple or any changes in size. Your doctor may also ask if you’ve noticed any changes to the lump in painfulness or size around your period. Your provider will also check for the presence of additional lumps in either breast.
How to Perform a Breast Self Exam Step-by-Step
1. First start with a visual inspection. Sit or stand shirtless or braless in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides.
2. Face forward to look for puckering, dimpling, or changes in size, shape, or symmetry.
3. Check to see if the nipples have become inverted. Inspect your breasts with your hands pressed down on your hips.
4. Then inspect them with the arms raised overhand and the palms pressed together.
5. Lift your breasts to see if the ridges along the bottom are symmetrical.
6. Examine further with your hands. This can either be done lying down or in the shower. Be thorough and apply different pressures for a methodical examination.
Take Your Health in Your Own Hands with Help From BASS Medical
Finding a lump during a breast self-exam can be alarming, but it’s not something you need to face alone. Besides the support of family, friends, and loved ones, you’ll have support from medical professionals every step of the way.
BASS Medical Group’s board-certified specialists and medical professionals are here to provide you with the assistance and support you need. This extends to cancer treatments, primary care, and any other medical problems that require additional attention. Early detection is key to early treatment, so call or make an appointment for your next consultation today.