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Women's Health

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Breast Lumps - Topic Overview

Fatty lumps

  • Fat necrosis is a condition in which the normal fat cells of the breast go through a change and become round lumps. The lumps may or may not be painful and may be firm. The skin over the lump may be red or look bruised. Fat necrosis may occur after a bruise or other injury to the chest or breast and can occur from weeks to years after an injury. Fat necrosis usually goes away without treatment but can form permanent scar tissue that may show up as an abnormality on a mammogram.
  • Lipomas are noncancerous lumps of fatty tissue. They can be small or large. A woman may have just one or several lipomas at once.


  • Adenomas are noncancerous abnormal growths of the glandular tissue in the breast. The most common growths, fibroadenomas, are somewhat more common in women in their 20s and in women of African descent. They usually feel round and firm and have smooth borders. They may move a little under the fingers, be tender, and change with the menstrual cycle. Adenomas are not related to breast cancer.
  • Intraductal papillomas are growths in the ducts of the breast. They usually feel like lumps just under the nipple and can cause a bloody discharge from the nipple. Women close to menopause may have only one growth. Several growths in both breasts are more common in younger women.
  • Breast cancer usually feels like a hard or firm lump (nodule). It usually is irregular in shape (it does not have smooth edges) and may feel like it is attached (fixed) to skin or tissue deep inside the breast so that it cannot be moved without moving breast tissue. Breast cancer is rarely painful and can occur anywhere in the breast or nipple.

Blood clots

  • Blood clots in a vein (thrombophlebitis) can feel like a lump. The phlebitis affects the large vein that normally crosses the chest to the underarm area (axilla). Symptoms include pain, redness, warmth, and lumpiness along the course of the vein. Blood clots in the breast or on the chest wall are rare.

It can be difficult to tell what is causing a lump in your breast. Call your doctor if you feel a new lump in your breast or if you have generalized breast lumpiness and you notice a distinct lump in your breast that is not like the rest of your breast (dominant lump). A dominant lump in the breast is any lump that is new, larger, harder, or different in any other way from the rest of the breast tissue.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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