Most breast lumps women feel -- 8 out of 10 -- aren't cancer. It's more common for them to be a cyst (a sac) or a fibroadenoma (an abnormal growth that's not cancer). Some lumps come and go during a woman's menstrual cycle.
You can't tell what it is by how it feels.
"It's always important to know your own body and detect a change which may need to be evaluated," says Beth Overmoyer, director of the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "If it is cancer, then you may have saved your life."
Myth 2: If You Have a Lump but Your Mammogram Is Normal, You're Done
You may need more tests, such as an MRI, ultrasound, or follow-up mammogram, to take another look at the lump.
You may also need to get a biopsy, which is when a doctor takes a small sample of the lump to test it.
Your doctor may also recommend getting checked more often.
Myth 3: Cancerous Breast Lumps Are Always Painless
Not necessarily. Although breast cancers aren't always painful, having breast pain doesn't rule out cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer - which has early symptoms such as redness, swelling, tenderness, and warmth in the breast -- can be painful when there is a lump, Overmoyer says.
Myth 4: If You Find a Lump While Breastfeeding, It Can't Be Cancer
Though breastfeeding does make you less likely to get breast cancer, it can still happen. If you notice a lump while you're breastfeeding, don't ignore it.
You may get an ultrasound to check it out, Overmoyer says.
Myth 5: If You're Young, a Breast Lump Can't Be Cancer
Not so. At any age, you should get breast lumps checked out by a doctor.
Even though most women who get breast cancer are past menopause or older than 50, a lump can be cancer, even in a younger woman.