Any new breast lump should be discussed with a doctor. Although breast lumps are common and usually benign (non-cancerous), they can be a warning sign of breast cancer. As such, timely investigation and treatment of breast lumps is important.
What causes breast lumps?
There are many conditions that can cause breast lumps including:
Most of these are benign breast conditions, do not progress to breast cancer, and will not increase your future risk of breast cancer. Some of the conditions above will require follow-up monitoring over time (surveillance) including breast imaging, while others will require treatment.
How are breast lumps investigated?
At your appointment, Dr Lancashire will:
- Take a medical history (including symptoms associated with the breast lump such as changes in breast/nipple appearance, pain, discharge, or other symptoms)
- Conduct a physical exam (size, shape, texture, and mobility of the lump will be assessed as part of a comprehensive examination of the breasts, nipples and lymph nodes)
- Order any necessary breast imaging (e.g. ultrasound, mammogram, MRI)
- Order a biopsy as required (see below)
What type of biopsy will I need for my breast lump?
The type of biopsy required to investigate breast lumps depends on several factors. Dr Lancashire will explain the rationale for any biopsy recommended to you.
Biopsy methods commonly used to investigate breast lumps include:
- Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) (removal of fluid or cells from the breast lump with a fine needle, usually under ultrasound guidance)
- Core biopsy (a radiological procedure under local anaesthetic in which a small amount of breast lump tissue is sampled with a needle)
- Vacuum-assisted core biopsy (a radiological procedure under local anaesthetic in which breast lump tissue is removed with a vacuum-powered needle instrument)
- Excisional biopsy (a surgical procedure to remove the breast lump under general anaesthetic)
- Punch biopsy (sampling a small piece of abnormal skin under local anaesthetic)