What to do if you find a lump in your breast

Finding a lump in your breast can be scary, and it’s easy to think of the worst-case scenario, cancer.

Finding a lump in your breast can be scary, and it’s easy to think of the worst-case scenario: cancer. However, the American Cancer Society notes that breast lumps are relatively common, and most are not cancerous. Regardless, do not hesitate to call your health care provider if you notice something is off.

A lump may be discovered during a breast self-exam or accidentally, such as when applying deodorant. If you’re not sure if the lump should be checked, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and have it checked out.

“There are many different causes of a lump in the breast, and it’s important to rule out nonbenign causes,” said Kathryn R. Bradley, M.D., OB/GYN with Norton Women’s Care. “The mass should be examined right away to check whether the lump is normal breast tissue, a cyst, a benign tumor or something that needs further testing.”

Norton Women’s Care

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women every year. Our team of OB/GYNs offers supportive and personalized care for every patient’s needs, including breast health.

What to do if you find a lump in your breast

  1. Notify your OB/GYN.
  2. Don’t ignore it and expect it to go away. Call and make an appointment.
  3. Prepare for your appointment by considering the following questions.
  4. Where is the lump located?
  5. How big is the lump?
  6. When did you first notice the lump?
  7. Are you experiencing any pain or swelling?
  8. Have you noticed any other changes to the breast? (such as changes in size or shape, skin dimpling, newly inverted nipple or discharge, itchiness, redness)
  9. Does the lump move upon touching it?
  10. Do you have a family history of cancer? (especially the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation)

After your exam, your provider may order additional testing. This could include a mammogram, ultrasound or MRI. Based on the results of imaging, a biopsy could be needed.

Causes of lumps in the breast

Some women naturally have more breast lumpiness than others. If the texture you feel is consistent throughout the breast, then it could be normal breast tissue. For premenopausal patients, it’s worth noting that some breast lumpiness and/or tenderness is normal before and during a menstrual period. If the pain does not go away after the period ends, then it should be evaluated by a medical professional. Other benign causes include breast cysts or fibroadenoma.

Schedule an Appointment

Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.