When young women detect lump in their breast accidentally or while self examination, it can cause lot of distress and strain. This is due to the anticipatory anxiety and fear of breast cancer. Contrary to the myth and belief, almost 80 to 90 percent of breast lumps in young women are not cancerous. Especially in women below the age of 40 or woman who is still menstruating, the chances of breast cancer are bleak.
Howsoever, it is imperative to plan for a medical checkup, when a woman finds a lump in her breast. This is to rule out any cancerous growth in the breast if at all. You may wonder why breast lumps develop in young women, as well as how a benign breast lump can be distinguished from a cancerous growth.
Breast Lumps In Young Women Diagnosis
To learn more about breast lumps, it is necessary to know the anatomy of the breast. Human breast consists of fat, blood vessels and nerves. Apart from this, there is intricate network of lobules (where the milk is secreted). Lobules are the prime structural unit of the breast. In human, the number and size of lobules vary exceedingly. They are largest and numerous during early womanhood. The tube like lactiferous ducts carries the milk to the nipples. This breast anatomy itself may be sometimes mistaken for a mass.
A palpable mass or a lump in the breast is generally of two varieties. It can be stony hard and immobile, meaning it is fixed to the skin and the tissues. The second variety is soft mass filled with fluid and movable. It rolls between your fingers when palpated. Meaning the mass is mobile and not attached to the breast tissue. The important differentiating point between benign and cancer lump is its mobility.
A lump that moves freely when palpated, but painful is less likely to be of cancerous origin. While a lump that is hard, painless and immovable between your fingers has a greater risk of being a cancerous mass. This observation does not necessarily confirm that a lump which is soft and mobile is always benign. The surest way to detect the nature of growth is by performing specialized tests, and the clinical judgment of your doctor on the basis of accurate history and clinical examination.
Following tests can assist in the diagnosis; mammography, ultrasonography, needle biopsy of the lump, and MRI.
What Causes Breast Lumps In Young Women?
In most cases breast lumps in young women are related to their periodic menses. Hormonal change as well as slight retention of fluid during the menses is responsible for the condition. The other causes of atypical mass in the breast include infections, blocked milk ducts, traumatic injuries etc.
Fibrocystic changes: are considered normal and they are common among many women between the age of menarche and menopause. There is a granular rubbery feeling over the breast accompanied with tenderness. A small fluid filled soft tissue may be palpated. The condition is non cancerous and disappears soon after menopause. Your doctor may advise you to restrict the salt intake in inhibit excess of fluid accumulation in the body. At times of uncertainty of diagnosis, he may also advice for a fine needle biopsy to make sure the lump is not cancerous.
Cysts: cysts of the breast are small fluid filed sacs. When palpated, they feel like grape. They move between the fingers. They are painful and enlarge in size before the menses and decrease in size after the menses. Even though if the cyst is solitary, there are tiny satellite cysts attached in the breast tissue. A cyst is confirmed by transillumination. It can also be detected with ultrasound. In cases of confusing views, your doctor may attempt fine needle aspiration to confirm the diagnosis. If the lump doses not disappear after aspiration it has be removed surgically.
Fibroadenoma: it usually occurs in young women and girls under the age of 25. Fibroadenoma are non tender benign growths in the breast. Pregnancy and lactation generally produces permanent relief. The size of the lump may vary from a rice grain to a small seized grape. The lump is neither adherent to the breast tissue nor to the breast skin. Its texture is unusually firm, more often than not; an indefinite round hard spherical lump can be made out with your finger and thumb. Reassurance is probably the most important part of the treatment. If required an excision biopsy may be advised to confirm the diagnosis.
Breast cancer: though rare in young women may be one of the causes for lump in breast. It is usually painless and stony hard to feel. The lump is usually adhered to the underlying structure in the breast. Mammography, ultrasound, MRI and excision biopsy are initial investigations. If however, there is certainty of cancer after histopathological tests, the doctor may advice to surgical removal of the breast. Further anti cancer treatment may be advised.
Infection in the breast may also lead to a lump. Mastitis is a common infection of the milk ducts in a lactating woman. The lump is painful and there is redness and swelling of the breast. Fever, chills may accompany mastitis. Treatment consists of proper antibiotics, good water intake as well as warm compression over the affected breast.
For treating fibrocystic changes: reassurance to the patient is important. Simultaneously the patient has to be made aware that certain amount of pain is to be expected. The breasts may be supported with firm brassier to reduce the pain and feeling of fullness. Often the patient is advised to restrict his salt intake, coffee and tea. Vitamin E and B-complex are valuable in relieving the symptoms.