The discovery of a breast knot, any size it would have, makes women think of only one thing: cancer. It is understandable, considering that the most common type of cancer in women is breast cancer.
It is very important for any woman to have her breasts examined regularly, but nodules do not always mean cancer. In contrast, only 10% of nodules are malignant.
According to Dr. Simon March, a surgeon at Colchester Hospital University, there are numerous causes of nodules, other than cancer, and they can come in different shapes and sizes.
Fortunately, the methods by which a node is benign or malignant can be ascertained over the last few years.
"Ten years ago we had to use a procedure that involved inserting a needle into the node and extracting cells that were then analyzed under a microscope," says Dr. Marsh.
"Often, this procedure did not give us an exact result, so the node had to be removed. Now we can collect a larger sample using a technique called thick needle biopsy. ”
This, explains the doctor, involves the introduction of a different type of needle to extract part of the breast tissue of about 1 to 5mm. Thus we can analyze more tissue, which makes diagnosis easier.
"Together with mammograms and ultrasound scanning that can produce clearer images, we can find out the origin of the node without having to remove it," says the doctor.
He also added that a cancerous node is strong and usually painless. However, any node should be taken seriously and requires a visit to the doctor if it does not disappear within 2-4 weeks.
Dr. Marsh explains the possible causes of nodules:
The oval knot that moves under the skin at the touch
Possible cause: fibroadenom
It can affect women of any age, but it occurs more often in those between the ages of 20 and 30. The nodule is usually between 1 and 2 cm and can appear in any part of the breast, but more frequently it appears in the upper part of the breast, towards the armpit.
In some patients, the nodule can grow very large, in the case of 20 year old women it can reach up to 12 cm or more.
Treatment: The fibroadenoma does not increase the risk of cancer, so it does not need to be removed.
The hard knot that appears after a blow
Possible cause: non-fat fat
"The nodule looks and feels strong and firm, as in the case of cancer," he said. Marsh. "However, if the lump appears after a stroke, it is usually about fat."
The nodule is usually 2-3 cm long and can become painful.
Treatment : As the nodule looks like mammary cancer, a biopsy is required. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the node is left to heal itself.
The knot like a soft swelling that appears suddenly
Possible cause : A breast sucker
Breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac in the breast. A woman may have one or more cysts. They are often described as round or oval swellings with distinct edges. When a breast cyst is felt, it often feels like a soft grape or a balloon filled with water, but it can sometimes have a firm consistency.
Breast cysts are common in women 30-40 years of age. They usually disappear after menopause, unless hormone treatment is taken after menopause.
Treatment: Breast cysts do not require treatment unless they are very large, painful or otherwise disturbing. In these cases, the extraction of the fluid from the cyst may improve the symptoms.
The small knot that moves under the skin
Possible cause: lipoma
Lipoma is a proliferation of adipose tissue cells in a thin, fibrous capsule, usually found just under the skin. Lipomas are, most often, at the level of the torso, neck, hips, upper arm or armpit, but can occur anywhere on the body. One or more lipomas may appear at the same time. Lipoma is the most common benign cell tissue formation.
The cause of the appearance of the lipoma is not fully understood, but the tendency of its appearance is inherited. A small injury can lead to the development of this formation. Obesity does not lead to lipomas.
Treatment: small 1 to 2 cm lipomas are harmless and do not require treatment. The larger ones can be eliminated because if they grow larger (they can grow up to about 18 cm), they can push on other surrounding structures and cause discomfort or pain.
Red knot in breastfeeding women
Possible cause : A breast abscess
A breast abscess appears when the bacteria in the mouth of the breastfed baby enter the breast tissue, causing an infection. This leads to an abscess – a small bag full of infection, which can reach a size of 5-10cm. Abscess can also occur in young women who have not had children, although this is very rare and the reasons behind this phenomenon are unknown.
Treatment: The infection can be extracted with the syringe after the area has been numbed with local anesthetic. Abscesses tend to repeat after a week, so the process may need to be repeated several times. .
The round, firm knot that moves beneath the skin
Possible cause : Phyllodes tumor
It is similar to fibroadenoma, but usually occurs in women 30-40 years old and tend to grow larger: 2-5cm on average.
"Most of these tumors are harmless but in about 10% of cases can be cancerous," says Dr. Marsh.
Treatment:they are surgically removed and tested for carcinogenesis.
The small, strong knot under the breast areola
Possible cause : Fibroadenom mamar
Breast fibrosis is formed by excessive growth of the head, in the form of a small sphere. Breast fibrosis is benign and therefore does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
The appearance of fibroadenoma is determined by the increased level of estrogen in the body. It has a smooth texture, is well defined and can cause slight discomfort.
Most are about 1-3 cm in size, and when they exceed 5 cm they are called giant fibroadenomas.
As a rule, fibroadenomas retain their size; and over time, some may shrink and others may disappear. Occasionally, they grow in size, especially in adolescents, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Fibroadenoma diagnosed in adolescents is called juvenile fibroadenoma.
Treatment: Fibroadenoma can be removed under local anesthesia, either surgically or by using a fine needle. If the biopsy shows that it is not malignant, during the procedure the fibroadenoma will be completely eliminated.
Soft knot, no larger than 5 – 6cm
Possible cause : hamartom breast
It is a benign breast lesion that results from the benign proliferation of fibrous, glandular and adipose (fibro-adeno-lipoma) tissue, all of these components normally found in the mammary gland, which is why it is also called "breast to breast".
It occurs more frequently in women over 35 years of age as a painless breast node.
The ultrasound appears as a well-defined node with heterogeneous hypoecogenic heterostructure with hyperecogenic bands inside, without calcifications.
Treatment: If it is not large and painful it will be left to heal itself or it can be surgically removed.
Malignant (cancerous) tumors that cause breast nodules
Symptoms of breast cancer include painless nodules, nipple leaks and inflammation of the skin of the breast. Sometimes breast cancer occurs without any symptoms.
Breast nodes caused by cancer are hard, irregular in shape, often fixed, immobile and usually painless. Breast cancer usually does not cause pain in the breast. Although women often worry about breast pain, most breast pain is not cancer. Only about 6% of women with breast cancer have breast pain as the primary sign of cancer.
Breast leaks are most commonly (90% of cases) caused by benign (non-cancerous) tumors – usually intraductal papillomas. Breast secretions can also be caused by breast cancer. In this case, the secretion is of a single breast, is spontaneous and bloody or transparent. Because secretions can be a sign of breast cancer, they must be evaluated by a doctor.
Changes in the skin of the breast: retraction, redness and heat, can sometimes be a sign of breast cancer. A particular form of breast cancer that causes eczematiform changes in the nipple is Paget's disease of the breast. However, most changes in the nipple are not due to cancer, but are caused by benign problems, such as nipple eczema or a fungal infection. However, any changes need to be evaluated by a doctor.
Annual routine checks and those recommended by the doctor are essential to track the development of a node. Keep in mind that although you have had nodules in the past that have been shown to be cysts and have no concerns, you cannot guarantee that a new nodule will be the same. Check for any suspicious changes you notice during self-examination. Prevention can save your life!