Benign Breast Lumps
Can Men Have Breast Lumps?
Yes. Men can have tender breast enlargement, often with a lump beneath the nipple. Sometimes this is in one breast, but it often occurs in both. This benign condition is called gynecomastia. Gynecomastia can also occur after certain types of medicines are prescribed.
Can a Breast Lump Indicate an Infection?
Possibly. Sometimes breast infections are first noticed as a painful lump, with or without redness. Mastitis is an infection that often occurs in women who are breastfeeding. Mastitis is an infection caused by bacteria that enter the mammary ducts through the nipple. Localized pockets of infection will appear as tender, warm lumps in the breast.
What Should I Do If I Find a Breast Lump?
See your doctor if you discover any new breast changes. A doctor should examine you if you find:
- An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle
- A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
- A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea
- A marble-like area under the skin
- A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed)
- Bloody or clear fluid discharge from the nipples
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple
What Will Happen at My Appointment?
After taking a detailed health history, your health care provider will perform a thorough breast exam to feel for lumps or other changes in the breast tissue and under the arms.
If there is nipple discharge, a sample will be collected and examined under a microscope to detect the presence of cancer cells.
Breast imaging (mammogram and/or ultrasound) will be performed if your previous studies are not current. Breast imaging helps determine if the lump is a solid mass or filled with fluid.
Your doctor may order a biopsy in order to remove a sample of cells or tissue from your breast. That sample is then given to a pathologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing abnormal tissue changes.
You may return to the doctor for another evaluation in a few weeks.
How Are Benign Breast Conditions Treated?
Fibrocystic breast changes do not require treatment, but your doctor may recommend therapies to help relieve monthly tenderness.
Simple cysts can be treated through fine needle aspiration, which can often be done during the evaluation. This is a nonsurgical form of breast biopsy in which a small needle is used to withdraw a sample of cells from the breast lump. If the lump is a cyst, removing the fluid will cause the cyst to collapse.
Fibroadenomas and intraductal papillomas can be removed surgically.
Mastitis can be treated with hot compresses or by taking hot showers and letting the warm water flow over the breasts. Sometimes an antibiotic will be prescribed.