Breast Problems - Topic Overview
Breast lumps or changes are a common health worry for most women.
Women may have many kinds of breast lumps and other
breast changes throughout their lives, including
changes that occur with menstrual periods, pregnancy, and aging. Most breast
lumps and breast changes are normal.
Breast development is the first sign of puberty in young
girls. Usually, breasts begin as small, tender bumps under one or both nipples
that will get bigger over the next few years. It is not unusual for one breast
to be larger than the other or for one side to develop before the other. A girl
may worry that a lump under the nipple is abnormal or a sign of a serious
medical problem when it is a part of normal breast development.
Common, noncancerous (benign) breast changes
If a woman has breast implants, there could be changes in the implant over time. Normal activity or an injury to the breast can damage the implant, causing it to leak, deflate, or rupture. The implant may harden, develop ripples, shift position, or change shape. The implant may need to be removed and replaced if any of these changes occur.
Many women with breast pain or breast
lumps worry about breast cancer.
There are two
common methods of early detection:
- Mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can often find tumors that are too small for you or your doctor to feel. Experts do not agree about when or how often women should have mammograms. Some recommend that you begin screening at age 40, and some recommend that you begin screening at age 50. Your doctor may suggest that you have a screening mammogram at a younger age if you have risk factors for breast cancer.
- Clinical breast examination (CBE).
During your routine physical exam, your doctor may do a clinical breast
exam. During a CBE, your doctor will carefully feel your breasts and
under your arms to check for lumps or other unusual changes. Talk to your doctor about whether to have a clinical breast exam.