Breast Lumps and Biopsies
Archived Q&A and Reviews
What are the options for diagnosing a breast lump while nursing? I've developed a lump that feels different from the plugged ducts I've had before--it's larger, not painful, and doesn't go away with hot compresses. It's on the underside, close to where the chest strap of my bra goes. My doctor wasn't too concerned, and given that I'm breastfeeding and plan to be for a long time, just wants me to check in again in a couple months. However, this practice doesn't have a lot of experience with nursing moms, and I can't change doctors, so I thought I'd check in on the collective wisdom. I see from the archives that mammograms can be done while nursing, but what about biopsies? What have you and your doctors done about lumps like this while breastfeeding? Anon
Ask for an ultrasound of your breast. You can instantly see if the lump is fluid-filled and most likely milk or a cyst, or if it is tissue and needs further investigation. It's painless and won't hurt anything. I had a cyst diagnosed this way when I was a teenager. Cysts are not cancerous, just fluid and generally go away on their own after a while Me
I also developed a different lump when I was nursing my first child. My ob sent me for an ultrasound, which she felt was a better option than a mammogram. It was painless and was a good way to alleviate my concerns. randomann
Find a new doctor asap. The first of my close friends is fighting breast cancer this year. She found a small lump while nursing her 6 month old and her MD dismissed it. She insisted on having it further checked out and lo and behold, Stage 1 breast cancer. She is 39. She caught it very early and her prognosis is excellent. She's almost done with treatment. But it does happen. Get it checked Better safe than sorry
Hello -- I wanted to reassure your that your breast lump is probably nothing to worry about... lactation induces many changes in the breasts (understandably!), and sometimes lumps of fatty tissue appear. I discpvered a lump in my breast 7 1/2 months into my pregnancy. My Kaiser nurse practitioner suggested I get a sonogram to locate the lumps (I had a cluster), and to get a view of their shape. Apparently the shape of lumps is a relatively good predictor of what they might be. She suggested that I NOT biopsy the lump during the pregnancy or while I was breastfeeding, nor should I get a mammogram, both are too potentially damaginfg to the milk producing tissues of the breast during pregnancy and lactation.
The radiologist who reviewed the films indicated that it was very normal to develop lumps duriong pregancy and lacattion, and that MOST lumps that formed during this period were benign adn would go away eventually, but that a VERY few forms of rare and aggresive breast cancers did devlop during pregnancy...
that a sonogram could rule out the possability with near total certainty (not complete, but near). I had a sonogram during the pregnancy and again 6 months later when I had a followup appointment. Now that my daughter has weaned I will schedule a followup mammogram. This is the second lump I have had... I had a biopsy about 2 years b/f I became pregnant... again nothing was found. It has made me take seriously the need to do monthly self exams of the breast and to followup with diognostic screening on the schedules suggested. Trust your instinct, you konw what is normal for your body; take this seriously, but don't freak out. SD sara
Get yourself referred to a breast surgeon and try to have it biopsied. Mammograms aren't always accurate. I was told to wait a few months after finishing breast feeding to have a routine mammogram. I did that and the mammogram came back negative. However, just two months later I discovered a lump in my breast that did in fact turn out to be cancerous. The mammogram didn't pick it up at all. The only way to truly know the status of the lump is to have a biopsy. At the very least you can get an ultrasound of the lump which can also be effective in ruling out cancer. Good luck!
I had a needle biopsy on a lump in my breast while I was nursing my son. It turned out to be benign, & the process was simple & quick. If you can't afford to change doctors, check with Planned Parenthood -- they have lists of doctors who examine/treat women's breast issues, often free or on the cheap!! Good luck! Dawn
I had a similar experience when breastfeeding my 1st kid - a lump that I thought was a clogged duct but wouldn't go away via all the usual methods. I finally saw a midwife in my dr's practice who immediately diagnosed it as a fibrocystic lump. She said they are very common during breastfeeding because of all the hormonal changes, and that they typically go away by themselves (it did). So it could be that your doctor is right.
Now this doesn't mean you should self-diagnose and assume your lump is not worth checking out. Is there a way you can get in to see someone who has more experience with breastfeeding patients? I have an HMO, but mine allows me to see both my regular doctor and the OB who delivered my baby, even though I no longer need postpartum care. (I see her for regular gyno stuff.) So you might try your OB and/or a midwife in his/her practice who can advise you. And if you still think you need a mammogram, they could probably help you with how that works for a breastfeeding mom Nursing mama
I am still breastfeeding my 13-month-old, and I dealt with this very issue not 4 weeks ago. My doctor also gave me the all-clear after a manual exam, but I was still distressed by the lump (which is in the same place as yours, and fits the same description), so he suggested an ultrasound. I believe this is the preferred method of screening for nursing moms, so perhaps you could ask your doc for a scrip/ referral for the procedure.
By the way, everything turned out to be fine. Apparently I have 'dense' breasts that became even more nodular with extended breastfeeding, and everything was exacerbated by my underwire bras (which I've since ditched). Wishing the same outcome for you. Anon
I found a breast lump while nursing and my doctor recommended a core needle biopsy. For the procedure, I was wide awake, the area was anesthetized. The doctor took four samples using a hollow needle. My lump turned out to be a fibroid adenoma (sp?) and I didn't have to stop breastfeeding. By the way, I go to Dr. Lisa Bailey in Berkeley. She's got an excellent reputation, a great personal style. Hope this helps - Been There
There is a whole lot doctors can do to figure out what's going on in your breast without resorting to a mammogram. I had a mass the size of a golf ball in my breast while I was nursing. It felt much harder than a clogged milk duct and did not respond to hot compresses. All the doctors thought it was a fibroadnoma. I went to see the breast surgeon and she did an ultrasound and then a needle biopsy. Guess what? It was a clogged milk duct. She anesthetized my breast, used a big needle and pulled the gunk out. Good luck and best wishes with your breastfeeding adventure! Lisa
I had the same thing and my ob had me start with an u/s which showed it was just a cyst. The u/s was quick, easy and painless. Seems like a good place to start at least just a cyst
Hi, I am currently nursing and my OB found a lump. He thought it was probably a plugged duct, but wanted to make sure and sent me to a specialist, Dr. Consorti. She did an ultrasound and found something that looked a bit suspiscious. She performed a biopsy and it came back as a lactating adenoma, which is non cancerous and basically calsified milk. Before the results came, she did mention that if further testing was necessary that she could get a better sample by taking a small sample surgically, but the risk of milk fistula was great. That's when the milk makes it's way out of the incision and becomes infected. Hope this information helps. michelle
I can't speak specifically to a lump WHILE NURSING, but I will say that my mom was told ''not to worry'' and ''to come back in a few months'' when she felt a lump on her breasts. She died of breast cancer. If you feel something weird, don't wait. Don't listen to doctors who tell you to wait. If its nothing, then great. You'll know for sure. But if its something, you do not have a few months to wait to find out. Jenny
How can I say this without putting you into a panic? You need to get an ultrasound and/or a mamogram NOW. I was nursing when I had the same experience that you described, and now I am finishing radiation treatment.
I would rather have you irritate your doctor and be ''wrong'' and ''make a fuss over nothing'' than to under go a radical mastectomy as I have- which might have been avoided had I gotten tested earlier, but no one thought twice about it- not my doctor, not my lactation consultant, not my midwife- because I'm young, I'm healthy, breast cancer doesn't ''run in the family'', I was nursing, it's just tissue changes, it's just a blocked duct, cancer doesn't hurt the way you're describing, yadda yadda yadda....
Bottom line- you need information, not soothing. There are some kinds of breast cancers that thrive on estrogen, so women do get them after pregnancy. Push your doctor for an ultrasound- this will give a general idea of the abnormality. The tech that did mine said- OK, what are you doing this afternoon, can you stay and have your mammogram now? He knew right away it was serious sh--. Then after the mammogram they wouldn't let me leave until the doctor spoke with me.
Sadly, it was a year and a half after I noticed the problem that the ultrasound was done & by then the tumor was really big.
I am glad that I got to nurse my daughter until she was two (I might have had to end nursing sooner if I had been diagnosed sooner), I'm glad that I have had great treatment, but damn- I miss my breast. I miss my lymph nodes in my arm. I miss taking life for granted. If you want support- I'll go with you- just don't ignore the little voice inside that says ''it doesn't feel like nothing. I think there's something wrong.'' Melissa
I had to repsond to yoru question about a beast lump while nursing. I am going through the same thing right now. Although it does not present itself like normal mastitas, mine is still an infection. In fact, it is a non painful absess and needs to be treated with antiobiotics or it will become a bigger problem. I would suggest you see a breast surgeon. My ob tried to aspirate my lump and when she realized it wasn't a milk duct she sent me to a surgeon. He is also doinga tissue culture to rule out any kind of other benign or malignant lump. I am continuing to breastfeed and it doesn't look like I will have to quit even if I need surgery. Good luck!!! annon
I also found a breast lump while nursing. It was in a differnet place than yours and it wasn't painful. I had my obgyn check it out. She thought it was clogged duct but had me get an ultrasound to be sure. I was told they cannot do mammogram on nursing women. The ultrasound didn't detect a mass but just to be sure, I am to go back in six months. Maybe you should request an ultrasound for your piece of mind. Good luck Caroline
I am 42 and recently had my first mammogram (delayed getting this done earlier due to interruptions in insurance.) They found a very large mass and I was given a core-needle biopsy -- thankfully it turns out to be a fibroedenoma, a benign lesion. Apparently common in your 20s and 30s (estrogen sensitive) and less so in women my age and older. No one I have talked to about this among friends and family have ever heard of these.
Although this mass is the size of a lemon, it was not something I ever noticed -- or even the two physicians who have been giving me breast exams. My breasts are quite large -- about an E cup -- and you can ony really feel it if I am lying on my side so that most of the breast falls out of the way and there is less fat/tissue to feel through. Also, because of its size, when I do feel it, I can see that I though it must have been ropey tissue -- it wasn't the kind of ''lump'' I would have been looking for.
I have a follow up mammogram in a few months to see if the size has changed, and they may decide to take it out, or not. It doesn't necessarily lead to cancer and may shrink with age -- or grow larger. I do feel some twinges of pain there sometimes. Will taking out something so large cause my breast to have a big dent? Doctors say probably not, but can't say for sure. Does anyone have any experience with this? It's amazing that with all the breast awareness promotion out there, no one has much to say about this. Questions, questions
If you are an E-cup and the fibroadenoma has to come out, talk to your doctor about a referral to a plastic surgeon. Your insurance should pay for a reduction (or reconstruction) so you match bilaterally. Former DDD
I had two fibrous lumps removed from my breasts in my 20's. It was outpatient surgery - quick and easy. My impression is that women with larger breasts are prone to these benign tumors. They really aren't harmful, but I think medically, the consensus is that they should be removed. While this may not be an option for you, after my breast reduction, I never had another one of these lumps appear. anon
There is a very informative article in the oct. issue of Organic Style (saw it at my hairdressers!) that explains the fibroadenoma. And further says that, though it isn't a precursor to cancer, it can be sore particularly around the menstrual cycle. It also suggested that laying off caffeine may help reduce discomfort. Mom with similar symptoms
I had a fibroadenoma removed at age 28. It was about the size of a ping-pong ball, and my breasts are fairly small (B-cup). There was no dent whatsoever after the surgery, though there was a small scar (much smaller than the diameter of the tumor). Recovery from the surgery was painful and awkward for a few days, but my doctors told me it was really a good idea to prevent ambiguities with future breast exams. I was just so thrilled not to have cancer (they had told me it was a 50/50 chance!), the experience was weirdly exhilarating. I have never had any problems or other lumps in the 5 years since then, and have had no problems breastfeeding on that side. ekc
Don't worry. Doctors could be more helpful about your fears, but it's unlikely to be a health threat. Talk to a surgeon. I had my first fibroadenoma 25 yrs ago, when I was 19. Back then they couldn't explain a thing, so it was scary & painful, size of a ping-pong ball on my then-size A breast. No dents, just a long scar, which bothered me then, but not anymore (and it faded). It probably won't affect a size E, though if it's buried deep they'll cut a little tissue to get to it. I had my second one a few years after that, but it was small, and not painful to have or to remove. I found a third one a few years ago at the age of 40 or so. It is NOT UNCOMMON for a physician to miss it! In my experience, only the surgeons know how to find & diagnose them. Neither the physician nor any of her NPs ever found it. (They'd declare me lump-free, and if I showed them, still couldn't find it, & told me not to worry.) I've had breast exams by surgeons and regular docs & NPs for 25+ years, and most don't do a proper breast exam. (Kaiser used to schedule regular exams with a surgeon once you've had a tumor, w/ an HMO the only way you can see a surgeon is to insist! So after INSISTING on a surgeon, whaddya know, they found the new tumor, and did a core-needle biopsy (which wasn't an option with my first tumors), and it was benign. Since then it either shrunk or disappeared into the mass of my nursing breasts (I scheduled one more surgeon appt when nursing). Sometimes it hurts. So make an appointment with a surgeon. They can tell a lot from the biopsy & ultrasound, and the shape and characteristics of the tumor whether it's likely to be cancerous. The surgeon can help you understand risks and learn more how to recognize the difference between a tumor or a cyst-which are other lumpy growths that are not problematic (I happen to have lots of those too). ASK QUESTIONS! In my case I felt much better leaving it be after talking to the surgeon. Be assertive with your GP. If you have it removed, don't worry. The pathologist will look at it and reassure you, and it will probably be a local anesthetic procedure, uncomfortable but short- lived. My first tumor started out small and grew, so I'd agree it's a good idea to take it out if it's growing (easier to remove it when smaller, plus you don't want worry about changes). For the pain, cut out caffeine. Vitamin B & E supplements also worked for a while-I think the B vitamins have a diuretic effect. Pain is probably b/c the tumor is pushing other tissue.
I had two rather large fibroadenomas removed a few years ago and neither left any sort of indentation. I still have faint scars from the surgery, but that's it. I was told I might have difficulties breastfeeding (or a weaker milk supply in that breast) ... but I had my first child six months ago and that has certainly not been the case. In fact, my milk supply is greater in that breast than the other. So from my experience: I have had no problems with fibroadenoma removal and would make that choice again should I develop another. no problems
When I had my daughter in June, I found a lump in my breast about when my milk came in. Ultrasound has confirmed it is not a milk cyst because it is solid. The usual recommedation is to biopsy with either a needle (getting a core sample of tissue) or by surgical removal of the lump. However I'm told because I'm breastfeeding, breast milk will probably leak out the incision, perhaps as long as I am lactating.
Because I suspect it is benign (I have had a benign lump (a fibroadenoma), removed before, my mother also had multiple fibroadenomas, my PCP and a surgeon I've consulted also say it ''feels'' like a fibroadenoma), I am considering putting off biopsy/removal of the lump until after my baby is weaned, or at least until she is primarily on solids. Breastfeeding has not been easy for us and of course I want to avoid making it more difficult than it already is. SO here are my questions: Does anyone have experience with getting breast surgery while breastfeeding? If so, did milk leak out the incision, for how long, and would you recommend your surgeon or oncologist? Thanks. mc
I had a fine needle aspiration done while I was nursing for a similar situation. There did not seem to be a problem with milk leaking. Joan
Please don't put off getting the lump biopsied, specially since putting it off until you are finished breast feeding may mean a year or two? (Since your child is still so young.) Plus, when hopefully they'll confirm this is benign, you won't have it hanging over your head for so long.
I had a stereotactic needle core biopsy done while I was still breastfeeding, where they remove a ''core'' or sample of tissue. My surgeon, who is very nice and seems to be very well respected, was Barry Gardiner. His nurse, who really is the one you talk to a lot, is terrific. But they're in San Ramon, and it's a trek from Berkeley, but I think was worthwhile. However, this type of biopsy is not done by a surgeon, but rather a radiologist, since they use mammographic images to guide the needle. I don't know if they would recommend this for you. I know the surgeon didn't want to do the surgical biopsy because of concern that milk would leak and there would be possibilities of infection. But with the stereotactic, they weren't very concerned about this -- stereotactic was also the more appropriate procedure in my situation anyway. The radiologist did suggest that I not! nurse on that side for a day or perhaps two? (I can't recall), to not contaminate the milk with traces of blood. They said I may see some blood in the milk from that side, but I never did. I don't know if it's really a health issue if there are traces of your blood in the milk to be honest. My child was older and so not nursing for that amount of time on one side didn't seem problematic, and I don't know if you've already tried pumping which is what you'd have to do. But I still think going forward with a biopsy, if that is what the doctors are recommending, is definitely worth it. La Leche League also has some information on their website, and perhaps some of the lactation consultants would be able to talk to you more about how to do this without impacting the breast feeding. anon
An update: after two surgical consultations, we decided to take a cell sample by fine needle aspiration (quick and painless), which revealed a lactating adenoma (i.e. benign)! Great news for me and for continuing to breastfeed w/o further complications. Thanks for those who responded. mc
A few months ago I discovered a lump on my breast. My MD said it felt very typically like a fiberous lump, nothing suspicious about it. I had a mammogram done and he called to say nothing suspicious showed up, don't worry about it.....however, I keep thinking about it and keep checking to see if it's still there....it is.
I'm going to see someone for a 2nd opinion, but I'm wondering what some of you in the health related field (or have experienced same) know about various kinds of breast lumps, tissue, etc. Is it a good idea to have this lump (not very big) removed even if it's totally benign? Will it go away? What does a fiberous lump feel like compared to a cancerous lump? Any info will be helpful. Thanks. Anonymous please
I went through the same ordeal a few months ago. I did mammogram, ultrasound, X-ray, and core biopsy. Try to see a breast surgeon or breast specialist for advice. I highly recommend Dr. Charles Jenkins, he is a specialist on diseases of the breast and thyroid. He is very thorough. His office is near Alta Bates, 2435 Webster St. (510)486-0818 I also recommend Dr. Susan Love's breast book by Susan Love. A very good resource. Barnes & Noble has it for $20 or check with your local libraries. Best wishes! Sherry
I have gone through what you are going through. This has happened twice. Both times, I had mammograms first. In my case they did see the lump and so I was referred to a surgeon to do a biopsy. When I got to my appointment, the surgeon felt the lump but the room had not been set up correctly and he had to leave to get something. When he returned, neither one of us could find the lump! He chalked it up to a cyst that burst. Several years later (I think 4), in the same spot it reappeared. This time I made it all the way through the biopsy and it came back fine. I understand your concerns and empathize with your anxiety. But, the progress that has been made even in the last 6 years has been great and if the mammogram reads fine, than this should help to allay your fears. I still have this lump, sometimes more evident than others. I've been told that cancerous bumps are hard and don't move with the tissue as much as fibrous ones. If this becomes consuming, than by all means get a second opinion but I too have been there and all is well. Good luck! janeen
You should request to see a surgeon if you are concerned about the lumps. This will give you some reassurance. If you had a mammogram, ask them what they thought the lump was. If they thought it was a cyst, don't worry about it. If they thought it was a benign fibrous tumor, ask more questions about how they know, and what they know. I have had 3 tumors over the last 20 years, the first when I was 19 and it scared the heck out of me. The surgeon kept checking it rather than taking it out, b/c the chances of it being cancerous were so low. When it started growing and changing rapidly, we took it out in an outpatient procedure, using novacain as an anesthetic. The second I took out right away. The larger they are, the more uncomfortable to take out. And it's not a horrible procedure, but it's not comfortable. Plus, any movement in your breast can hurt once it's out. With my third, the reg. med doctor didn't believe I had a lump. I insisted on getting it checked out and getting a mammogram. The surgeon was confident that it was benign, but I still had a biopsy, which is somewhat less trouble than taking the whole thing out: essentially a doctor finds the lump via ultrasound, uses that to guide a biopsy needle, which is kindof like a gun, that shoots into the tumor and draws out a sample. It's also a little shocking and uncomfortable, and aches for a while, and takes a few days to a few weeks before you feel normal again. The sample is investigated at the cellular level for abnormalities. A few things you should know (and again, best to have a surgeon walk you through this and correct any potential misconceptions that I have): tumors tend to be loose, whereas cysts tend to be connected to the rest of the breast tissue. Cancerous tumors tend not to be regular in shape, or smooth in shape, whereas benign tumors tend to be smooth, oval or roundish. (My surgeon explained this to me). Ultrasounds and mammograms generally indicate whether a mass is likely to be benign or malignant, but its not foolproof. Biopsies increase that likelihood, but are not foolproof (e.g., cancerous cells could be somewhere in the far end of the tumor in an area not sampled-it's just not likely). You can choose to have it taken out anyway, but in my case I asked lots of questions, and feel confident that this one is another benign growth. If it changes, I'll ask for another u/s biopsy, and go back to the surgeon. Cysts and tumors tend to be associated with caffeine and high fat foods. I've been told by many different doctors to have NO caffeine, since I also have cystic breasts. No one has ever explained to me what the association is based on. The important thing in my opinion is to ask as many questions as possible, read about it if it helps, and to make an informed decision that's right for you, once you understand all the risks and statistics. Keep in mind that most lumps are not cancerous, so don't spend the next month completely frantic about it. Hopefully you'll also get some replies from cancer survivors, who will have a different perspective than me. anonymous
did you see an gp or a gyn about the lumps? apparently gyns aren't as good at realizing when they are malignant, they are more in the ob/gyn business. my best friend (who is now 41) consulted her gyn about a lump and was told it was fine, then 7 months later got worried and pushed the issue and it turns out it was malignant, she's just started treatmenet. she found out that a lot of women had similar experiences when they asked their gyn about lumps, that a general md was better at telling which was which. i odn't know why but if you get a second opinion you might try a gp not a gyn. anonymous please
I had a very similar experience. I developed a lump in my breast while breastfeeding my infant daughter. My gynecologist immediately referred me to a surgeon to have it removed. I met with the surgeon and immediately disliked him. I have a lot of physician friends so I asked around for advise. They all suggested I have a fine needle biopsy prior to surgery. I went to UC Davis Med Center in Sacramento (they have two days a week where they do almost a drop in breast biopsy). You only need to make an appt. one day in advance. The biopsy doesn't hurt and the doctors are kind and caring. They give you the results immediately, too! They just take the sample and look at it under a microscope (they're also cytologists and pathologists). Of course, if the sample is benign, they give you the standard the lump could be heterogenous and there is a small chance we just didn't biopsy the part with the malignant cells disclaimer. However, they puncture the lump over 16 times and look at cells from every puncture, so it's a pretty good sample, and I was confident in the results. My lump was benign. I did eventually have it removed, but I was able to take my time and find a surgeon that I liked to do it. One more note, my gynecologist felt it should come out or be biopsied immediately, because she believes you can not tell from feeling or ultrasound if the lump is benign. She said she's had people that were told by a radiologist that the lump was benign when in fact it was not. After all my reading on the subject I've decided she's right. No one can tell benign or malignant for sure unless they biopsy it. Also, although I knew the lump was benign, it still bothered me a lot and I feel much better with it gone. I really think you need more information or your mind will not rest. Hope this helps, and feel free to email me if you have questions. Julie
You should get an opinion from a good GYN who has experience with breast exam. It is quite common to do a needle biopsy on the lump in the office (no more painful than the dentist) and send it out for pathology to relieve everyones concerns. It is usually fully covered by most insurance. The non- insured cost is @ $250.00 including labs - which may be worth it for peace of mind. Often the biopsy itself will cause certain types of benign lumps to dissolve on their own. As you probably know, many women have naturally fiberous breasts, but that does not change the need to take a persistent lump seriously. You should get a copy of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book - in any bookstore in Berkeley - and read the chapter on lumpy breasts. Good luck. rlr
Don't fool around with breast lumps. I'd go to Oakland breast surgeon Lisa Bailey, MD, 883-1095, for a second opinion. anonymous
Your lump is probably fibrous, based on what you described. However, it's good that you are pursuing follow-up anyway. And if it changes in size, you should definitely follow-up. And mammograms are not failsafe. If you're really concerned, it's best to go to a doctor really qualified to do a breast exam. I recommend the breast health center at UCSF. 415-353-7111. A surgeon/nurse practitioner can see you there. Or, in the east bay, Barry Gardiner is a surgeon in Oakland who is highly qualified in doing breast exams. I am responding as a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 32 and as a pharmacist. I hesitated responding for fear of being alarming, but, although your lump sounds fibrous, a second opinion is always important. AK
To the woman with a breast lump: It's good to take these things seriously; 80 percent of breast lumps are benign, but you want to know for sure if yours is in the 20 percent. I would recommend getting a second opinion from someone who deals with breast lumps all the time, like a breast surgeon. The person I have seen and whom I really respect is Dr. Lisa Bailey. She's on Milvia Street in Berkeley. I'm not sure what kind of insurance she takes, so you may want to ask about that. She may recommend a sonogram or maybe she will recommend nothing. This may help give you peace of mind. Anonymous
I had a similar experience with breast lumps several years ago and I know it can be very scary. My GP said she had read that there was an association between fibrous breast lumps and caffeine consumption. I knocked the caffeine out of my diet (switched to de-caf coffee for that all-important morning cup) and, for me, the results were strikingly positive. The lumps were gone within about four months and have not returned. (It's been about 8 years.) This may not work for everyone, but it's worth a try just for the peace of mind it might bring, as it did for me. an anonymous Mom
I am a Physician Assistant and have worked in the area of Women's Health for several years. I can give you some general information about breast lumps and what standard practice is regarding medical management. First of all, a large percentage of women (maybe even 50%) have fibrocystic breasts, which is a benign condition due to cystic (fluid filled) lumps. These lumps may get tender at certain times of the month, like 1-2 weeks before the start of the menstrual period. They may go away or change throughout the month, or they may persist. Drinking caffeine may contribute to their presence. In general, lumps that are more worrisome for cancer would be more solid and fixed. It is of course best to let your medical provider determine the qualities of any lump. Your risk should also be determined. For example, if you're 40 or older, or you have a family history of breast cancer, that should be considered. If a lump feels fibrocystic, you provider may decide to have you return after your next period. The lump may be smaller, which would point towards a benign process. When a mass persists, often a surgeon is consulted for a second opinion. They may evaluate further using ultrasound, a fine needle biopsy (to see if it's fluid filled), or tissue biopsy. They may just recommend a removal depending on circumstances. A mammogram may or may not be done. This is not as effective a tool for younger women with more dense breast tissue, for example. If your specialist is convinced that the lump is just fibrocystic, especially after a second opinion, there is not much reason to remove it. It has been evaluated and should be monitored for changes, but it is not pre-cancerous. Women should do a monthy self exam after their period and have a clinical exam yearly, or as recommended by their provider. Remember that most breast lumps are not cancer, but they do need to be evaluated. Good luck to you. Kelly
I have had what I think are called fibrocystic lumps which early on in my twenties turned into a big scare for me sending me in for a mammogram, etc. But they were nothing, and I've had other lumps I've asked about at various check-ups and the nurse practitioner or doctor always seemed to be able to tell the fibrous ones. And they do go away on their own. However, it scares me to think I might miss something cancerous since I've gotten used to having lumpy breasts (different since breastfeeding, however). I just found a ton of information on this subject at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/breastdiseases.html Anonymous
I encourage you to ask your doctor to refer you for a second opinion on your breast lumps. While the chances are that they are benign, all lumps should be evaluated carefully. If the mammogram shows nothing, an ultrasound should usually be considered. There are Breast Centers at Alta Bates (at the Herrick Campus) and at Summit Hospital, where you can get more information and referrals. Good luck! Anon