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Breast Cancer

Cleveland Clinic's Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program offers the highest quality care for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. We hope our collection of breast cancer information and resources will help you get the facts you need along with the latest treatment options and resources available at Cleveland Clinic.

"I've found a lump in my breast."

Don't panic. Eighty percent of all breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous).

There are several common causes of breast lumps:

  • Benign breast changes (fibrocystic changes)
  • Breast cysts
  • Fibroadenomas
  • Breast infection
  • Breast cancer

What are the most common types of benign lumps?

The most common benign lumps are fibrocystic changes, breast cysts, and fibroadenomas.

  • Most women have a certain degree of fibrocystic changes. These are tiny, fluid-filled sacs and fibrous (rubbery) tissue that might feel like lumps.
  • Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form when fluid becomes trapped in the milk ducts.
  • A fibroadenoma is another benign lump. It is the most common tumor found in the female breast. These most often occur in women who are in their reproductive years.

Can men have breast lumps?

Yes. Men can have tender breast enlargement, often with a lump beneath the nipple. Sometimes this is in one breast, often in both. This benign finding is called gynecomastia. The cause is often not discovered, but may be related to hormonal imbalance or medication side effects. Breast cancer, however, DOES occur in men. A thorough evaluation is necessary.

Can a breast lump mean an infection?

Possibly. Sometimes breast infections are first noticed as a painful lump, with or without redness.

What should I do if I find a lump?

A discrete breast lump that is separate from the surrounding tissue should be checked by your health care provider. Call and make an appointment.

What will happen at the appointment?

  • A detailed health history will be taken and a thorough breast exam will be done.
  • Breast imaging (mammogram and/or ultrasound) will be performed if your previous studies are not current.
  • You might be scheduled for other diagnostic tests, such as:
    • A needle aspiration —a sample of cells is removed for evaluation.
    • A core biopsy —a very small sample of the lump is removed for evaluation.
    • An excisional biopsy —a surgical sampling or removal.

You might return to the doctor for another evaluation in a few weeks or months.

What can I do for myself to continue good breast health?

  • Be aware of changes in your breast tissue and report them to your health care provider if you are concerned.
  • Discuss screening options with your health care provider.
  • Know your breast density and how this may affect mammographic screening.
  • Report changes in your family history every year to your health care provider.

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Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/30/2015...#6906

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