Our breasts often take a severe beating and undergo several changes due to hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy and age. While most of us have suffered from swollen breasts, tender breasts and breasts that feel lumpy, not all of these signs are indicative of cancer.
Common Types Of Breast Changes And Lumps
Fibrocysts are very common and almost all women experience them at some point in their life. It is characterized by a general lumpiness, which is felt around the nipple and areolas. This tends to occur in women as they approach middle age and the milk ducts and breast tissue become fatty and bulbous giving rise to a ropy and glandular feeling to the breasts. The lumpiness disappears soon after menopause.
Benign breast changes are known to occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle when she experiences pre-menstrual syndrome. This is the time when many women complain of swelling, tenderness and pain in their breasts due to the surge in the hormones.
The breasts may feel lumpy because of extra fluid retention by the breasts. This is nothing to worry about as it disappears after the cessation of the menstrual cycle.
Breasts become large and lumpy during pregnancy and lactation due to the excess production of milk. They may often become painful and engorged. This too is nothing to worry about and can be remedied by regular feedings and pumping.
Cysts are solitary lumps, which are rubbery and may often be filled with fluid. They normally occur in women between the ages of 30-35. They enlarge and become very painful just before the period.
Most of them occur in both breasts and some cysts are so small that they cannot be detected. These cysts can be easily removed with the help of a procedure called as fine needle aspiration in which the fluid is drained out with the help of an ultrasound.
These lumps are rather tough and glandular and have more body mass and structure. They are harmless and painless. They can be easily moved around in the breast. Almost all women in their teens and 20’s are said to experience them. Most of them are benign and can be easily removed. They are rarely malignant but enlarge during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Damaged and thread-like fatty tissues often give rise to small and firm lumps called as fatty necrosis. These lumps are very common in fat and obese women. The lumps appear to be red and swollen especially if the woman is injured on her breast. These are generally removed as they may be mistaken for cancer.
Certain breast changes are accompanied by nipple discharge, for example white discharge is normal for women who are under oral contraceptives or thyroid malfunction. General breast lumpiness may cause the nipples to emit a green or brownish discharge.
An infection may also cause a discharge and this is often treated with the help of antibiotics. Intraductal pappiloma may cause the breast nipples to bleed. This happens because of a wart like growth which projects into the milk duct near the nipple. These can be removed surgically without harming the breast.