Breast Lumps In Women

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Cancer Symptoms Women Ignore Slideshow
Breast cancer

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast cancer may not cause signs and symptoms, so this is one reason that screening mammograms are essential. When symptoms do occur, the most common symptom is a mass or lump in the breast. Other symptoms that can occur are nipple discharge or redness, changes in the skin of the breast (such as dimpling or an orange-peel appearance), and swelling of part of the breast.

Breast lumps facts

  • Breast lumps can be caused by infections, injuries, non-cancerous growths, and cancer.
  • Breast cancer usually causes no pain in the breast. The symptoms of breast cancer include painless breast lumps, nipple discharge, and inflammation of the skin of the breast.
  • The chances that a particular breast lump could be cancerous depends on many factors, including past medical history, physical examination, as well as genetic and other risk factors.
  • The only way to be certain that a lump is not cancerous is to have a tissue sampling (biopsy). There are several ways to do the biopsy. The treatment of a breast lump depends on its cause.

What are causes of breast lumps?

There are many causes of breast lumps. Some of these causes are harmless, while others can be painful and/or dangerous. Causes of breast lumps include infections, injuries, non-cancerous growths, and cancer.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States. Currently, death rates from breast cancer are declining. The decline in death rates may be due to a combination of earlier detection and better screening as well as improved treatments. While most breast lumps are harmless (benign), every breast lump should be evaluated by a doctor to exclude or establish a diagnosis of cancer.

Picture of the anatomy of the breast
Picture of the anatomy of the breast
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/2/2015

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