Lumps in the breast are one of the most commonly known signs of breast cancer. If you’ve discovered one of these in your body, your first reaction might be to panic. I have some good news for you; lumps in the breast usually aren’t cancer. Here are some of the most common causes of lumps in the breast, and what they could mean about your health.

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From Wikimedia

First of all, soft lumps. These are typically round, soft and small, although they can be any size. They’re easily manipulated by pressure, and might hurt a little when you press down on them. These are usually harmless cysts or other sacs filled with a natural fluid. A lot of women have these as a result of hormone changes during menstruation. Though unpleasant, these are usually of no serious danger. However, some tumours can feel deceptively soft in their early stages. You don’t need to rush off to an oncology expert, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Go in for an ultrasound scan to check if the lump is solid. If not, your doctor can insert a needle to drain the fluid.

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From Wikimedia

Soft lumps which are notably large could be an entirely different story. If you find a soft mass with a width of one to four inches, then you could be experiencing a fibrocystic change in your body. This is especially likely if the lump is accompanied by a tenderness in one or both of your breasts. The hormones oestrogen and progesterone fluctuate fairly often in a woman’s body. Sometimes the changes can cause breast tissue to thicken. You may feel embarrassed to talk about the condition, but over half of women are affected by it. This symptom is rarely serious, and your doctor will probably prescribe painkillers to ease the tenderness. It may also be a good idea to wear a supportive bra, and cutting down the caffeine in your diet.

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From Wikimedia

So what should you be looking out for? If you notice a lump which is hard and solid, and doesn’t budge under pressure, then it could be a cancerous tumour. Unfortunately, there’s no telling what the cause is. A family history of cancer can be a factor. Aside from that, smoking, drinking and eating habits can all contribute. At other times, contracting cancer is just a plain matter of luck. Usually, it will also have strange, jagged sides, as opposed to the smooth contours of more common lumps. If your lump checks all these boxes, then see your doctor immediately for a mammogram. The sooner a cancer starts being treated, the better your chances of recovery are. Hard lumps could be a sign of fibroadenomas and other non-serious conditions. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t hesitate to have it checked out!

If the lump you’re wondering about doesn’t fit with any of these, search for some of the other common causes. In the majority of cases, lumps in the breast are trivial. However, if you’re in any doubt, always talk to a medical professional.