What causes breast lump?
Women and men have breast tissue that may respond to changes in hormone levels leading to breast lumps. The lumps may come and go depending on hormone levels. Breast lumps can occur at any age in women and men. The majority of breast lumps are benign, particularly in women under age 40. In women, lumps are most often caused by changes in the tissue related to hormonal shifts. These are called fibrocystic changes. Fibroadenomas, cysts, and damage to the fatty tissue are other reasons for breast lumps in adult women. In men, lumps may form because of a condition called gynecomastia.
In some instances, breast lumps can be associated with breast cancer. A painless but firm lump with irregular edges is a sign of a potentially cancerous breast lump.
Benign causes of breast lump
Breast lump may be caused by breast tissue disorders including:
- Benign tumor of the breast (fibroadenoma)
- Breast abscess
- Breast infection (mastitis)
- Fluid-filled sacs (cysts)
- Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men)
- Hormonal changes in breast tissue (fibrocystic changes)
- Small growth in the milk ducts (intraductal papilloma)
Hormonal causes of breast lump
Breast lump can also be caused by hormonal shifts including:
- Excessive estrogen in infants
- Mid-puberty hormonal changes in boys
- Pre-puberty hormonal changes in girls
Serious or life-threatening causes of breast lump
In some cases, breast lump may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that requires prompt medical attention. Breast cancer is an example of a potentially serious cause of breast lump.
Questions for diagnosing the cause of breast lump
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your breast lump including:
- When did you first notice the breast lump?
- Is the lump firm or soft?
- Do you have other symptoms such as pain in the breast tissue?
- Have you experienced any nipple discharge such as blood or pus?
- Have you noticed any changes in the skin of the breast?
- Have you experienced unexplained weight loss?
What are the potential complications of breast lump?
Breast lump can be associated with breast cancer. Because a breast lump can be due to breast cancer, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Breast cancer
- Breast deformity or misshapen breast
What is breast lump?
A breast lump is a swelling, outgrowth, or protrusion in the breast. Both women and men have breast tissue. This normal tissue may respond to changes in hormone levels, leading to breast lumps. The lumps may come and go depending on hormone levels. Breast lumps can also signal both benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors of the breast.... Read more about breast lump introduction