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    Breast lumps

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    Definition of breast lumps

    A breast lump is a growth of tissue that develops within your breast. It may be described as a mass, growth, swelling, thickness or fullness.

    A breast lump can vary in the way it looks and feels. If you have a breast lump, you may notice:

    • A distinct lump with definite borders
    • A thickened, slightly more prominent area in your breast that’s different from surrounding breast tissue
    • Other breast changes, such as redness, dimpling or pitting of the skin
    • One breast that’s noticeably larger than the other (breast asymmetry)
    • Nipple changes, such as a nipple that’s pulled inward (nipple inversion) or spontaneous fluid discharge from your nipple
    • Breast pain or tenderness

    Sometimes, a breast lump is a sign of breast cancer. That’s why you should seek prompt medical evaluation. Fortunately, however, most breast lumps result from noncancerous (benign) conditions.

    Causes of breast lumps

    A breast lump can develop as a result of conditions such as:

    1. Breast cancer
    2. Breast cysts
    3. Fibroadenoma
    4. Fibrocystic breasts
    5. Hamartoma, a noncancerous tumor in the breast
    6. Injury or trauma to the breast
    7. Intraductal papilloma, a noncancerous, wart-like growth in a milk duct
    8. Lipoma
    9. Mastitis
    10. Milk cyst (galactocele)

    When to see a doctor

    Make an appointment with your doctor to have a breast lump evaluated, especially if:

    • The breast lump is new or unusual and feels different from surrounding tissue or from tissue in your other breast
    • The breast lump doesn’t go away or gets bigger after your next menstrual period
    • The breast lump changes — gets bigger, firmer or more defined from surrounding breast tissue
    • You have bloody, possibly spontaneous, discharge from your nipple
    • You notice skin changes on your breast, such as redness, crusting, dimpling or puckering
    • Your nipple is turned inward (inverted), although it isn’t normally positioned that way
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