Breast lumps are localized swellings that feel different from the surrounding breast tissue. It is a symptom/sign for a variety of conditions. As approximately 10% of breast lumps ultimately lead to a diagnosis of breast cancer,
it is important for women with a breast lump to receive appropriate evaluation.
Types of Breast Lumps:
- Cysts and Abscess Lumps
- Fatty Lumps
Breast lumps are often discovered during a breast self-examination or during a routine check-up. Upon noticing an unusual lump in the breast the best course of action is to schedule an examination with a physician who can best diagnose the type of breast lump and strategy for treatment.
Patients should make sure that the medical records of any breast-related illnesses are retained,as this facilitates diagnosis in case of recurrence or follow-up.
Treatments for breast lumps vary depending on the type of lump. Standard breast cysts and abscesses require drainage for treatment, while sebaceous cysts and fatty lumps are best treated by surgical removal.
Several treatment options currently exist for fibroadenomas: “wait and watch,” open surgery and minimally-invasive surgical alternatives.
“Waiting and watching” is common for very small fibroadenomas and involves routine check-ups with a physician every 6–12 months.
Open surgery has historically been the most common method for removing large fibroadenomas, but has several disadvantages. Surgery often requires general anesthesia and a day in the hospital, and can leave significant scarring at the site of the incision.
Minimally-invasive surgical alternatives include biopsy-removal techniques and cryoablation. Biopsy-removal involves using a vacuum-assisted biopsy device to remove the fibroadenoma bit by bit. This procedure can be effective but often does not remove all of the fibroadenoma, resulting in a possible re-growth. In cryoablation, an ultrasound-guided probe is inserted into the fibroadenoma through a small incision in the breast. Extremely cold temperatures are then used to freeze the lesion, which eventually dies and is reabsorbed into the body.