Womens Health

Breast Bumps And Lumps

It's common for a woman between the ages of 30-50 to find breast lumps. There are many conditions that can cause lumps to form in the breast. Almost all of these conditions are of little concern and are not dangerous.

Some women have generalized breast lumpiness in which the breast feels as though it is covered with little bumps. This is called nodularity. A woman may sense that some areas of her breast are denser than others. There may be accompanying tenderness.

These lumps may occur in both breasts just around the nipples and in the upper external quadrants of the breasts. The lumpiness is often cyclical with the lumps arriving just before you menstruate. In some cases the lumps are gone within a few days.

Quite Normal

This generalized lumpiness was once called fibrocystic breast disease, but today doctors realize that this very common condition is quite normal. The lumpiness usually stops after menopause unless the woman is taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Pain Relief

Cysts are smooth, rubbery bumps that will move when you manipulate them with your fingers. They may cause pain but not always. In general, these fluid-filled sacs are caused by the same hormones that regulate the menses. For this reason, cysts are not often found in postmenopausal women. If your doctor diagnoses a breast cyst, he may drain the area to give you some pain relief. Aspiration also helps your doctor confirm the diagnosis of a cyst. Cysts are unrelated to cancer.

Sebaceous cysts are plugged ducts situated by hair follicles. Much like cysts, they can be manipulated with your fingers. Sebaceous cysts may enlarge in response to injury or hormonal stimulation. If there are no unpleasant symptoms, the cyst can be left alone. Removing the cyst involves a small skin incision and the removal of the sac to prevent a recurrence.

Abscesses are spots of infection located inside the breast tissue. There may be a great deal of local pain and the skin over the abscess might be red, hot, and hard. You may feel like you have the flu, and might run a fever. Abscesses require antibiotic treatment and sometimes surgery to drain the infection. Most abscesses occur in lactating women.

Scar Tissue

Another type of condition that is not cancerous is called fat necrosis. In fat necrosis, the fat cells within the breast change their structure, and turn into rounded lumps. The lumps are sometimes painful and can be quite firm. The skin that covers the areas may be reddened or even bruised. Fat necrosis is often a response to bruising or other trauma to the area that may occur weeks or even years after the injury. The lumps do tend to disappear without treatment, though they may form scar tissue that can show up as false abnormal findings on a mammogram.

Fatty tissue lumps are also noncancerous and are termed lipomas. They can be of any size. A woman can have one lipoma or many at once. Lipomas are harmless.

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