Breast self-exams are the most efficient way to get to know your breast tissue. These exams provide immediate information about changes in the breast tissue from month to month. They account for many instances of early-detection, revealing abnormalities such as lumps before a woman’s next mammogram. If you detect a lump, you may be very concerned. This is understandable. As much as we know it may be difficult, we want to say that finding a lump is nothing to panic about.
It may help you to know that breast lumps are quite common. Many women will notice one or more during their lifetime. In most cases, these abnormalities are benign, caused by fluid-filled cysts or even by certain medications. Just because most lumps are non-cancerous does not mean they shouldn’t be evaluated. After finding a lump, you should schedule a visit with your doctor here at River Oaks Gynecology in Houston.
PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT
When you call to schedule your appointment, you may be asked to provide a little bit of information, such as:
- Where in the breast is the lump positioned, and which breast is it in?
- How big does the lump feel? How hard does it feel? Does it seem to move when pressed?
- When was your last period?
- Does the breast itch, hurt, or feel warm?
DURING YOUR APPOINTMENT
When you visit a doctor for a breast exam, you may be asked these questions again. Sometimes, the characteristics of a lump will change based on where you are in your monthly cycle. Your doctor may also review your family and personal medical history. A gentle examination of the breasts includes pressing on breast tissue in the area where the lump was found. If the lump is superficial, the doctor may press it between two fingers. This evaluation provides details that help identify if the lump is fluid or hard tissue.
In addition to physically examining the lump, the doctor will likely order diagnostic imaging. The most common imaging test performed on lumps is a mammogram. The test may be conducted on the same day or as soon as possible to obtain an accurate diagnosis right away.
Benign breast lumps may not require further treatment, as they may resolve spontaneously. However, your doctor will probably want to follow up with you more frequently until then.