What are the common causes of breast pain and lumps?

During a woman's lifetime, her breasts will go through many changes. Some of these changes can cause breast pain and lumps. Most of these issues are not a cause for concern. However, in some cases, these abnormalities can indicate a more serious condition: breast cancer.

The composition of a normal breast marks it as a privileged area for apparently abnormal textures and sensations. Since fatty tissue makes up a large part of the breasts, a thin woman's muscles can be felt through the breast, which can feel lumpy. Various glands and ducts, primarily to aid in milk production, also run through the breast. If these structures are active or growing, they can cause pain, tenderness, soreness, or breast lumps. Lipomas and adenomas are two common types of painful fat growth that can be found in women.

Hormonal changes can also relieve breast pain and lumps. Therefore, any abnormality that occurs during pregnancy, puberty and menstruation is less likely to result from a serious condition. Girls in particular will experience a lot of breast changes during puberty as hormonal changes affect breast development. The monthly menstrual cycle is another time when hormones are extremely active. Breast pain often accompanies premenstruation in many women, especially younger women, and this type of pain is known as cyclic breast tenderness.

Non-cyclical metalgia, on the other hand, refers to painful breasts that are not associated with a menstrual cycle. This type of pain is due to the formation of a cyst or other benign lump in the breast. The cyst can arise from an infection, from a chronic or hereditary condition, or from simple use. Women over forty are the most likely to develop this disorder. Another condition that can form cysts is fibrocystic breast disease, which is identified by rubber-like mobile cysts that occur in the upper or lateral areas of the breasts.

Painful breast infections can be the result of a bacterial or viral illness. A type of infection called mastitis can occur while breastfeeding. Once an infection sets in, symptoms, in addition to breast pain and lumps, can include discoloration, swelling, and fever. A serious infection can cause a pus-filled cyst or abscess.

Although the least likely cause of breast pain and lumps, breast cancer poses a serious threat to women of all ages and backgrounds. If a lump is found during a self-exam or medical examination, further testing should be done. Women with a family history of breast cancer among close relatives or women who have had an early or late onset of menstruation or menopause may be at greater risk and should have routine mammograms starting at age 40. Symptoms of breast cancer are variable: breast lumps, depressed pockets of skin, and tight nipples with bloody discharge may occur, but actual pain may or may not occur.

For breast pain and lumps, perhaps the best treatment is surveillance. Reducing caffeine and fat can help alleviate benign symptoms in some women. Exercise and vitamin intake can also be of some help. Treatments for malignancy usually require chemotherapy and, in some cases, surgical removal of the affected tissue or the entire breast. Women can benefit from becoming familiar with their individual breast structures and performing monthly self-exams to discover and observe any sudden changes in the breasts.

The first step in a self-exam is to examine your exposed breasts in a mirror, your shoulders squared, and your arms at your hips. Any changes should be noted, such as discoloration, discharge, or dimpled or raised skin. The individual should then lift the non-testing hand or place it behind the head and fully feel each breast and nipple in a circular or up-and-down motion to check for lumps or indentations in the nipples. This step should also be repeated while lying down, and moist skin can help detect any position. Any suspected abnormality, regardless of its location in the breast, should be referred to a certified medical professional.

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