If You Find a Lump
If you feel a lump or change in your breast, it’s normal to be concerned. However, most lumps are not breast cancer, but something less serious, such as a benign (not cancer) breast condition.
Some lumps go away on their own. In younger women, lumps are often related to menstrual periods and go away by the end of the cycle.
However, if you find a lump (or any change in your breast or underarm area), see a health care provider to be sure it’s not breast cancer.
Learn more about benign breast conditions.
Breast lumps or lumpiness
Many women’s breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.
Some women have lumpier breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then it’s probably normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel like a change are a concern and should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition (such as a cyst or fibroadenoma).
See a health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump (or any change) that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump (or any change) that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something that’s different from what you’ve felt before
If you’re not sure whether you should have a lump (or any change) checked, it’s best to see a health care provider.
It may be helpful to download and print Susan G. Komen®‘s Questions to Ask Your Doctor If You Find a Lump or Change in Your Breast resource and write on it at your next doctor’s appointment. Or you can download, type and save it on your computer, tablet or phone during a telehealth visit using an app such as Adobe. Plenty of space and a notes section are provided to jot down answers to the questions.
There are other Questions to Ask Your Doctor resources on many different breast cancer topics you may wish to download.
Liquid leaking from your nipple (nipple discharge) can be scary, but it’s rarely a sign of breast cancer. Discharge can be your body’s natural reaction when the nipple is squeezed.
Signs of a more serious condition (such as breast cancer) include discharge that:
- Occurs without squeezing the nipple
- Occurs in only one breast
- Is bloody or clear (not milky)
Nipple discharge can also be caused by an infection or other condition that needs treatment.
If you have nipple discharge, see a health care provider.
Read our blog, Laurie’s Story: After Advocating for Herself, She Now Advocates for Others.
Other changes in the breasts
You may see or feel other changes in your breasts.
See a health care provider if you notice any of these warning signs of breast cancer (see pictures) [67-68]:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
Pain in your breasts may be related to your menstrual period. However, if the pain doesn’t go away, don’t ignore it. Although pain is rarely a sign of breast cancer, it’s best to see a health care provider to be sure.
Learn more about the warning signs of breast cancer.
Learn more about benign breast conditions.
Learn more about breast cancer diagnosis.
If you don’t have a health care provider
If you don’t have a health care provider, one of the best ways to find one is to get a referral from a trusted family member or friend.
You can also call your health department, or a nearby hospital or clinic. If you have insurance, your insurance company may have a list of health care providers in your area.
Learn more about finding a health care provider.
Susan G. Komen®’s Breast Care Helpline:
Calls to the Komen Breast Care Helpline are answered by trained specialists and oncology social workers Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. The Helpline provides free, professional support services to anyone who has questions or concerns about breast cancer, including people diagnosed with breast cancer and their families. The Helpline also has information on low-cost breast cancer screening and can help you find screening resources in your area.
You can also email the Helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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