Breast lumps: Causes, types, checking, and treatment

A breast lump is a localized swelling, protuberance, bulge, or bump in the breast that feels different from the breast tissue around it or the breast tissue in the same area of the other breast.

There are different reasons why breast lumps develop. Most lumps are not cancerous and do not pose any risk.

Causes include infection, trauma, fibroadenoma, cyst, fat necrosis, or fibrocystic breasts. Breast lumps may develop in both males and females, but they are much more common in females.

A person who detects a breast lump should have it evaluated as soon as possible.


breast lumps
Breast lumps can result from a number of factors, and most are harmless.

The female breast consists of different types of tissue. The two main types are milk glands, where milk is made, and milk ducts, or tubes, for milk to pass through to reach the nipple.

Breast tissue composition can vary, depending on the function. For example, when a woman is breastfeeding, her breasts will change. They will feel and look different.

The breast also contains fibrous connective tissue, fatty tissue, nerves, blood vessels, and lymph nodes.

Each part of the breast can react in different ways to changes in body chemistry. These changes impact the sensations and texture of the breast, and they can affect the development of breast lumps.

Possible causes of breast lumps include:

an abscess or infection

adenoma or fibroadenoma


fat necrosis


breast cancer

Some breast lumps feel as though they have a distinct border, while others may feel like a general area of thickened tissue.

Noncancerous lumps

The size, feel, and texture of breast lumps can vary differ considerably. The consistency may help a physician to diagnose what kind of a lump it is.

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Breast cysts

A breast cyst is a benign, or noncancerous, fluid-filled sac in the breast. It usually feels smooth and rubbery under the skin. Some breast cysts may be painless, while others are quite painful. Breast cysts are rare in women aged over 50 years. It is not clear what causes breast cysts, but they may develop in response to hormones related to menstruation.

Cysts can range in size from very small, only visible on an ultrasound scan, to between 2.5 and 5 centimeters. Large cysts can put pressure on other tissue, and this can be uncomfortable.

A sebaceous cyst may occur if the ducts of sebaceous or oil glands become blocked. A closed sac or cyst may develop below the skin. These may grow bigger as a result of injury or hormone stimulation. Sebaceous cysts do not usually need treatment, but they can be removed if they are painful or bothersome.


Abscesses sometimes develop in the breast. They can be painful. They are noncancerous, and they are usually caused by bacteria. Nearby breast skin can become red, and it can feel hot or solid. Women who are breast feeding are more likely to develop breast abscesses.


An adenoma is an abnormal growth of the glandular tissue in the breast.

Fibroadenomas are the most common types of adenoma in the breast, and they tend to affect women under the age of 30 years, but they may occur in older women too. They account for 50 percent of breast biopsies, but they do not usually become cancerous.

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