See your GP if you notice a breast lump
It’s important to get breast lumps checked by your doctor.
Even though most breast lumps are not cancer, a change to the way your breast feels or looks could be a sign of breast cancer.
What happens when you see your GP?
Your GP will examine your breasts.
They may refer you to a breast clinic to investigate what’s causing the lump.
Common causes of breast lumps
Common causes of breast lumps include:
- Fibroadenoma – a lump that often develops during puberty, but which can occur at any age
- Breast cyst – a fluid-filled sac that can develop as the breasts change with age, more common in pre-menopausal women
Other causes of breast lumps
Less common causes of breast lumps include:
- Fat necrosis – a lump that forms when an area of fatty breast tissue is damaged
- PASH (pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia) – usually felt as a painless lump in the breast
- Benign phyllodes tumour – a rare cause of breast lumps
2. Breast pain
Breast pain is very common in women of all ages.
Most nipple discharge is not caused by cancer.
However, report any new or unusual discharge to your GP.
Causes of nipple discharge
Nipple discharge may be due to changing hormone levels.
Or it could be caused by a condition such as:
- Duct ectasia – does not usually cause any symptoms but occasionally causes a milky discharge, a result of normal breast changes that happen with age
- Intraductal papilloma – a wart-like lump that develops in one or more of the milk ducts in the breast, may cause a brown or blood-stained discharge from the nipple
- Fibrocystic changes – cluster of cysts with hard (fibrous) tissue, usually seen in women aged 25–45
Other common benign breast conditions include:
- Breast calcifications – do not cause any noticeable symptoms, usually found during breast screening or an investigation for another breast problem
- Periductal mastitis – occurs when the ducts (tubes) under the nipple become inflamed and infected, causing a tender, hot or reddened breast
Less common benign breast conditions include:
- Hyperplasia and atypical hyperplasia – more common in women over 35, do not usually cause any symptoms
- Mondor’s disease – caused by inflammation of a vein just under the skin of the breast or chest wall
- Sclerosing lesions of the breast – an area of hardened breast tissue, more common in women in their 30s and 40s
- Lobular neoplasia – usually found during a biopsy or test being done for another breast symptom or change, often in women aged 40–50