- Cancer Symptoms Women Ignore Slideshow
- Breast Cancer Slideshow
- Take the Breast Cancer Quiz
- Patient Comments: Breast Lumps In Women - Diagnosis
- Patient Comments: Breast Lumps (In Women) - Causes
- Patient Comments: Breast Lumps - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Breast Lumps in Women - Injuries
- Patient Comments: Breast Lumps in Women - Benign Lumps
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
- Breast lumps facts
- What are causes of breast lumps?
- Infections that cause breast lumps
- Injuries that cause breast lumps
- Non-cancerous growths that cause breast lumps
- What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
- What determines breast cancer risk?
- How are breast lumps evaluated?
- How can a woman be certain that a lump is not cancer?
- How are breast lumps treated?
Infections that cause breast lumps
Inflammation of the breast tissue is known as mastitis. Mastitis may occur in women who are breastfeeding a baby (lactating). When the skin of the nipple (areola) is injured or cracked, which may occur with nursing, bacteria can enter the damaged area and cause infections. In a breastfeeding woman, a hard area commonly thought of as a "clogged milk duct" can form. Sometimes, certain treatments (see below) can prevent the painful, hard area from developing into an actual breast infection. Infections can either be a deep pocket of pus, in which the infection looks like it is growing down into the breast (an abscess), or a wider area of skin redness that spreads out (cellulitis). Body piercing in the nipple area increases the risk of breast infections, and these may be particularly difficult to treat.
Injuries that cause breast lumps
If a breast is injured by trauma, tiny blood vessels can rupture to cause an area of localized bleeding (hematoma) that can be felt as a lump. Trauma to the breast can damage the fat cells in the breast tissue, a condition called fat necrosis. The injury can also form a lump in the breast. These types of lumps that follow a significant trauma are not cancerous. Fat necrosis can also occur at the site of a previous breast biopsy.
Non-cancerous growths that cause breast lumps
- Fibroadenomas are benign (not cancerous) growths and are very common. These growths most commonly occur in women 30 to 35 years old, but can also occur in women under 30 years of age. Fibroadenomas are solid, firm tumors that are usually painless or only slightly tender. They sometimes grow quickly in teenagers or during pregnancy.
- Breast cysts are fluid-filled, sacs within the breast tissue and are benign. They are very common, especially over the age of 35. These cysts often vary in size during the menstrual cycle and may be tender.
- Fibrocystic changes are characterized by breasts that are lumpy with many irregularities in the breast tissue itself. Fibrocystic breasts seem to occur when a woman's breasts are overly sensitive to fluctuating hormone levels. Women with fibrocystic changes may have pain and/or lumps.