“I’ve found a lump in my breast!”
Don’t panic, 80% of all breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). There are several common causes of breast lumps:
- Benign breast changes
- Breast infection or injury
- Medicine related lumps or breast pain
- Breast cancer
By far the most common lumps are fibrocystic changes, breast cysts and fibroadenomas. Most women have a certain degree of fibrocystic changes. These are often described as benign, tiny fluid-filled sacs that might feel like lumps. They might be hard or rubbery, and often fluctuate with the menstrual cycle. A woman can also have a single breast lump that might be large or small. Again, this is a fluid filled sac that might fluctuate with the menstrual cycle. A fibroadenoma is another benign lump and is the most common tumor found in the female breast. These most often occur in women who are in their reproductive years.
What should I do?
A lump in the premenopausal woman might be monitored for one to two months to see if it changes, and is related to hormone fluctuations and the menstrual period. Any unexplained breast lump that persists should be checked by your health care provider. Call and make an appointment.
What may happen at the appointment?
A detailed history will be taken and a thorough breast exam will be conducted. Breast imaging (mammogram or ultrasound) will be performed if your previous studies are not current.
You might be scheduled for other diagnostics studies such as:
- Needle aspiration: this may be all that’s needed if the lump is a cyst
- Core biopsy under mammogram, or MRI guidance: a piece of the lump is removed for microscopic study
- Open biopsy: this is the surgical removal of the mass done in the operating room. Depending on these results, further testing, physician referral or even further surgery could possibly be recommended.
It is estimated that about 1 in 13 women may develop breast cancer within their lifetime. The disease has genetic predispositions, in addition to relationships to hormonal changes and possibly fat intake.
At Surgical Specialists, we have access to the latest digital mammography techniques, ultrasound, and even MRI guided biopsies at the Virginia Hospital Center. Utilizing image guided biopsies, we can plan therapy individually. With a multidisciplinary approach, using Cancer Specialists, Radiation Therapists, and Surgery (often involving Plastic Surgeons as well), Surgical Associates can deliver modern care to patients with this disease.
Surgery performed by our team can be from minimal, with small incisions and “lumpectomy”, to bilateral mastectomy with plastic surgical reconstruction. In addition, when needed, a sentinel lymph node biopsy may be performed. If the cancer does involve lymph nodes, an axillary dissection can be performed. However, all of these options are discussed thoroughly with you prior to any operation to select the best one FOR YOU.
Virginia Hospital Center offers patient navigator services to facilitate care of the breast cancer patient. In addition breast cancer support groups meet regularly at the hospital.