The Low-Down on Lumps

What does a lump feel like?

Your breasts are made up of tissues of varying consistencies. The upper, outer part of your breast usually feels firm and bumpy, while the surrounding tissue in the inner and lower parts of your breasts is soft. Doing a breast self-exam monthly will help you recognize how your breasts normally feel—and when something changes and doesn’t feel quite right.

Lumps that are painless and hard with irregular edges are more likely to be cancerous. But not all cancerous lumps are the same; some cancerous growths can be soft, rounded or painful. If you notice any new or suspicious lumps, call your physician right away.

5 Steps to Take after Finding a Lump

First, don’t panic. Finding a lump does not automatically mean you have breast cancer. In fact, about 85-90% of breast lumps are not cancerous. Still, you shouldn’t ignore it.

  1. Call your doctor and schedule an appointment to be examined as soon as possible. Early diagnosis is key to survival – the sooner you are diagnosed, the better your chances for beating it.
  2. Your doctor will conduct a breast exam and may order diagnostic testing, which could include a mammogram and/or ultrasound.
  3. If the results of your diagnostic testing are abnormal, your doctor will likely order a breast biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is taken from your breast to be examined for possible cancer. The biopsy, which can be performed in an out-patient setting, is used to determine if a lump is cancerous or if it is a benign breast condition.
  4. If the advanced diagnostic tests determine the lump is breast cancer, additional tests will be performed to determine the extent of the disease.
  5. A multi-disciplinary team of breast cancer specialists will work together to develop your personalized and comprehensive care plan.