Breast Lumps – What are They?

Breast lumps are always viewed with a lot of apprehension and concern. Rightfully so. After all, these localized protuberances in the breast may be malignant and lead to bigger health concerns if not checked in time. Lumps in the breast are in the form of localized swelling and bulges that are different from the surrounding tissues. These bumps may be similar to or different from the underlying tissues in the same or the other breast. If you are feeling any bump or lump in your breasts lately then it is time to ascertain whether they are cancerous or capable of posing any risks. Here, we take you through some significant facts about breast lumps. Awareness about them can help in alleviating serious health concerns in the short and long term alike. 

Causes of Breast Lumps

The primary causes of breast lumps include fibroadenoma, cyst, fat necrosis, infection, trauma, and/or fibrocystic breasts. According to health practitioners, these lumps may develop in both genders. It has been observed that their incidence is more common in females than males. There are several other reasons that can be stated as being the cause of breast lumps. These factors are usually harmless. 

Breast Tissue Composition

In females, the tissues in the breast are of different kinds and perform varied functions. The two main issues are those belonging to the milk glands and the milk tubes/ducts. These glands are responsible for the production of milk. The ducts are the passageways for passing the milk from the glands to reach the nipples. The composition of breast tissues varies in line with their features and functions. For example, the breast tissues would look and feel different in the case of breastfeeding moms. 

The other types of breast tissues are fatty tissue, nerves, fibrous connective tissue, lymph nodes, blood vessels, and so forth. 

The different parts of the breast function in different ways and in accordance with the changes occurring in the body. As mentioned in the article published here, these changes influence the texture and sensations in the breast. They also point to the formation of breast lumps. The probable causes leading to breast lumps include and are not limited to infections, an abscess, adenoma or fibroadenoma, lipoma, cysts, breast cancer, fat necrosis, and so forth. In certain cases, breast lumps seem to have distinctive borders. In others, there may be a feeling of thickened tissues in the general areas of the breast.

Breast Lumps that are Non-cancerous

The feel, size, texture, and number of breast lumps vary to a large extent. Physicians look for consistency in the prevalent lumps to diagnose their nature and type. These lumps may also be mistaken for breast cysts, which are noncancerous or benign fluid-filled sacs present in the breast. Cysts are usually rubbery and smooth to feel and are found in the underlying tissues of the breast. These cysts may produce varying degrees of pain and are rare in the case of females aged 50 years and above. 

Research is still underway to understand the main causes of breast cysts. In some cases, they are believed to surface in response to the hormonal activities taking place during menstruation. Cysts can range from 2.5 and 5 centimeters to those that are minute in size and capable of being observed only through an ultrasound scan. The larger cysts tend to be more uncomfortable as they pressurize the other tissues to cause pain. 

Sebaceous cysts are caused when the oil or sebaceous glands get blocked. The blockages create cysts or closed sacs under the skin. In most cases, the cysts start growing in size as a result of hormone simulation or any injury. These cysts rarely require treatment but have to be removed once they start becoming bothersome or painful. 


Yet another kind of concern related to the breasts lies in abscesses. They are quite painful but noncancerous. Typically caused as a result of bacterial infections, they lead to the redness of the nearby skin in the breast. The abscesses feel solid and hot and may cause serious concern in weaning women. 


Adenomas refer to abnormally growing glandular tissues present in the breast. They are usually found in women aged 30 years or below. Also found to a small extent in aging women, adenomas usually lead to breast biopsies but are mostly non-cancerous. Mostly, they disappear on their own. It is common to find fibroadenomas with smooth borders; they are round and firm.

Breast Lumps that are Cancerous 

Cancerous breast lumps or tumors tend to feel firm and hard. They are usually irregular in shape and are found in the deep tissues of the breast. Sometimes, it may feel that they’re stuck to the skin. Breast cancer, in its early stages of detection, is not painful. Capable of forming in any part of the nipple or breast, these lumps are generally found in the outer parts of the upper quadrant. On the other hand, there are different types of malignant tumors that are extremely painful. The painful tumors are larger in size and cause the other parts and components of the breast to get compressed. They become very painful when they start growing or ulcerating through the skin of the patient. 

Self Examination of Breast Lumps

It is important to self-examine your breasts for any unnatural formations or lumps. The self-examination process should be carried out regularly to diagnose any issue in a good time. Look in the mirror to determine the shape, size, looks, and color of any lumps or visible swelling. Raise your arms in the air and check for breast lumps again. Besides, keep a watch for any type of discharge from your nipples or breast. The discharge may be milky, watery, yellow or with traces of blood. 

You may also want to feel your breasts while in the lying down posture. Start by probing below your armpit and keep on moving downwards till you reach your rib cage. It is easier to perform these tests in the shower while you’re in the standing or sitting position. Though most types of breast lumps are non-cancerous, it is always better to consult a health specialist to know what they are and how they can harm you.

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