Normal Breast Lumps: When to Worry

A breast lump may not be a cause for alarm. In most cases, you are not sure what caused the lump or how it got there, and you might be worried about it. The worst possibility of a breast lump is that it is related to breast cancer, which then causes you to become fearful. It’s totally understandable because a breast lump may be the first sign of breast cancer. However, you should know that most breast lumps have nothing to do with cancer.

Your doctor will first and foremost recommend a biopsy, which will cause your anxiety to ramp up a bit more. But the National Breast Cancer Foundation [1] says that about 80 percent of women who get a breast biopsy receive a negative result, meaning the lump is noncancerous.

Continue reading to learn some signs that a lump might be cancerous, other possible causes of breast lumps, and when to worry about a breast lump.

Signs a lump may be cancer

The most common symptom of breast cancer in women is a lump in the breast. There are certain characteristics that indicate a lump may be cancerous. Although you still shouldn’t conclude just by looking and touching, this is what a breast lump typically feels like:

  • hard
  • irregularly shaped
  • fixed to tissue and can’t easily be moved with your fingers
  • painless

A lump is most likely cancerous when it doesn’t shrink and continues to grow. Breast cancer can start in any part of your breast, armpit, or all the way up to your collarbone. But another 2017 study showed that the most frequent site for a primary breast tumor is the upper outer quadrant. That’s the part of your breast that’s closest to your armpit.

If you have a lump that fits this description, you should immediately visit your doctor for an examination.