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Lumps in Breast Tissue and What It Means

A Girl's Guide to Breast Tissue

Last Summer, health researchers recommended that women no longer need to perform self-breast exams, but that hasn't stopped me. A few women I know discovered breast cancer early through self-examinations and received early treatment, which saved their lives.

Breast tissue tends to be lumpy, so when you examine your girls each month, you want to look , or rather feel, for changes in consistency, size, or tenderness. If you happen to feel something different from the surrounding tissue, you may instantly think breast cancer. Here's a guide from Health magazine to help you figure out what to do based on what you feel.

What you feel Cause and what it means What to do
Soft lump: it's smooth and round (like a grape), and it moves a little when you press on it. This lump may be painful to the touch, and it can range in size from small to large. Caused by hormonal changes in your menstrual cycle, it could be a cyst or sacs filled with natural fluid. Get an ultrasound. If it is a cyst, your doctor may recommend that you go on the pill to lower your chance of developing cysts.

If you felt something different


What you feel Cause and what it means What to do
Hard lump: this will feel like a clearly defined smooth, hard, rubbery, round lump. It could be small like a pea, or up to five inches wide. If you can move it around under your skin and it doesn't hurt, then it sounds like it's a fibroadenoma, which is a noncancerous tumor. They're not as common as cysts, but not uncommon for women in their 20s and 30s since they're caused by hormonal changes. Make an appointment with your doctor just to be sure.
Fluid leaking from both nipples. It could be caused by a thyroid or pituitary problem. Some women also experience discharge from this area when pregnant, taking birth control pills, or from stimulation. Talk to your doctor. If it is a gland issue, medication should clear it right up.
Soft mass: it's soft, lumpy, and about one to four inches wide. It may be tender right before your period. It's most likely caused by fluctuations in your hormones, which thickens breast tissue. This isn't anything a little acetaminophen or ibuprofen (or chocolate) can't take care of. Wearing a more supportive bra may offer relief as well.
Hard mass: you feel a solid, irregular-shaped mass with jagged edges that won't move when you push on it. Nobody knows for sure. Age, family history, and alcohol intake could be factors. This is something to have checked out by your doctor immediately, as it could be cancerous.
Image Source: Getty
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chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
This is really helpful! I feel like one reason self-exams haven't statistically been that useful is because no one ever tells you what you're looking for.
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