When To Worry About A Breast Lump

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We all have read so much about breast cancers that every breast lump look scary, but this is not the exact picture. The social awareness is created, in order to emphasize the importance of self breast examination, since this is the most common cause of cancer in women and treatable also if detected at an early stage. But generally, 85% of the breast lumps are not cancerous.

Take it seriously if you are at risk

The incidence of breast cancer is higher among developed countries, so we can say; this is the cost of unethical modern advancement. The factors, associated with increased risk of breast cancer are; family history, presence of blood stained nipple discharge, obesity, alcohol consumption, chest irradiation before the age of 45, early menarche, late menopause, and nulliparity .

On the contrary some factors that reduce the risk are, giving birth at a young age, duration of breast feeding, and removal of ovaries early in life due to some reason.

What your doctor will advice you

The thumb rule is, you have a lump, so you need to undergo imaging studies.

If you are younger than 35, sonomammography (ultrasound of breast) is sufficient, but if you are over 35, both mammogram and ultrasound scan may be advised.

If any suspicious area is identified, biopsy is warranted.

Suspicious findings

Cancerous lumps are usually, hard, fixed, irregular, and painless; with the overlying skin looking like peel of orange. There may be serous or blood stained discharge from the nipples.

Mammography may show hyper dense areas with irregular margins, speculations and micro calcification. On ultrasound the cancerous lesions presents as complicated cysts with internal echoes showing fluid, debris and thin septations.

If you have any of the findings, consult some oncologist without delay.

What to do next

To confirm the diagnosis and to classify the type of cancer, Doctor may advice you core needle biopsy if solid components are present or, fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) if the area is cystic.

Take home message is:

ALL BREAST LUMPS IDENTIFIED ON SELF EXAMINATION SHOULD BE EVALUATED BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Why? Because, this is the one cancer which if diagnosed at an early stage could be cured.

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