Breast lumps happen for many reasons. Lumps can be hard, smooth, soft or round. Most of the time, a breast lump doesn’t mean you have breast cancer. Many other conditions can cause breast lumps. Treatment for a breast lump depends on the cause. Some lumps don’t require any treatment.
A breast lump is a mass or growth that develops in your breast. While a breast lump can be a sign of breast cancer, it’s usually benign (not cancerous). In fact, 8 out of 10 breast lumps are noncancerous. If you feel a lump in your breast or under your arm, try not to panic. A healthcare provider can figure out the cause of the breast lump and determine if you need tests or treatment.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel so you’re able to notice any changes.
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A breast lump may feel as hard as a rock or squishy like a grape or pea. Breast lumps can occur in your breast tissue or close to your armpit area. The lump might feel hard or different from the rest of your breast tissue.
It’s also common to have a lump that feels:
Additionally, you may notice the lump feels painful or tender to touch. This isn’t necessarily a sign of a serious problem. The pain may come and go with your menstrual period.
Keep in mind that a lump in your breast when breastfeeding (chestfeeding) can be a symptom of engorgement or a clogged milk duct. You should contact your healthcare provider if this doesn’t go away within a few days.
Symptoms of cancerous breast lumps vary for everyone. Some of the things you should watch for include:
Causes of breast lumps include:
Breast tissue can be naturally bumpy in texture. Some people have lumpier breasts than others. If your breasts feel the same on both sides, it’s probably normal for you. But lumps that feel harder or different may be a cause for concern. If you find a new lump or notice a change in the lumps you already have, it’s a good idea to contact a healthcare provider.
Breast lumps are one of the symptoms of breast cancer. But, often, breast lumps aren’t cancerous. Several other conditions can cause breast lumps.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice a breast lump. If it is cancer, treatment is more successful when started early.
Breast infections are relatively common and can occur in both lactating and non-lactating people. They tend to come on rapidly (days to a week), with pain, redness and sometimes a lump or an area of hardened tissue. They may progress to a breast abscess.
If you feel a lump or anything unusual in your breast, see a healthcare provider. Here’s what you can expect at the initial appointment:
Depending on the exam and any imaging results at your initial appointment, your healthcare provider will recommend what comes next.
If your provider believes the lump is benign, you’ll return to routine screenings. If a cyst is tense and painful, your provider may remove the fluid to make you more comfortable. If the fluid isn’t bloody, it’s thrown away.
Sometimes, your provider will order additional imaging to check a breast lump such as a breast MRI.
Sometimes, lumps disappear on their own. Younger people may get lumps related to their menstrual cycle (period). Those lumps go away by the end of the cycle. However, always notify your healthcare provider about any lumps. Your provider can figure out what’s causing the lump and determine if it needs further testing or treatment.
Treatment for a breast lump depends on the cause. Some lumps don’t require any treatment.
Breast lump treatment includes:
Pay attention to your body. If you notice changes or something feels off, talk to your healthcare provider. Ways to keep your breasts healthy:
Breast tissue is naturally lumpy. If the lumpiness feels like the rest of your breast, or like your other breast, you probably don’t need to worry. Call your healthcare provider if you notice:
Breast lumps have many causes. Most of the time, they’re not cancer. If you feel a breast lump or any other change in your breast, talk to your healthcare provider. They can figure out the cause of the lump and if you need treatment. Don’t put off taking care of your breast health. If the lump is cancer, treatment is most successful if started early.
Yes. Men and people assigned male at birth can develop a condition called gynecomastia. It causes their breasts to become tender and may cause a rubbery breast lump to form under their nipple. This condition can be related to a hormonal imbalance or a side effect of medication, although most cases are “idiopathic,” meaning that providers don’t know what causes it.
Men can also develop breast cancer, so if you feel a lump in your breast, see a healthcare provider for an evaluation.
Most breast cancers begin in your milk ducts or lobules, most often in the upper outer portions of your breast.
“Red flags” can vary for each person. Some red flags could include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Breast lumps can happen for many reasons. They’re common and aren’t usually cancerous. Try not to panic. Contact a healthcare provider if you notice a lump or other changes in your breast. They can determine a cause, order imaging tests and recommend treatment (if necessary). Performing breast self-examinations and being aware of changes in your breast (and body) are important to your health and wellness.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/19/2023.
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