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Internal Medicine Doctors of
Mill Basin & Bergen Beach, Brooklyn

6301 Mill Lane (Corner of East 63rd) in Mill Basin (11234)

718-942-4600

Dr. Bella Zimilevich

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD
Primary Care Doctor

Dr. Bella Zimilevich

Dr. Anatoly Pisman, M.D
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Dr. Bella Zimilevich

Dr. Alexander Shapsis, M.D
Gastroenterologist

I found a lump in my breast. Should I be concerned?

Posted by on October 13th, 2013

Answer: Finding a lump in a breast is enough to strike fear into any woman’s heart. You’re right to be concerned. While many lumps are discovered by women themselves, most are benign- but this doesn’t mean you should ignore them. It takes only a few minutes to check a breast lump, and it is far better to be safe than sorry.

The following are some general rules of thumb. Keep in mind that they are not meant to falsely reassure you (or cause panic):

  • Painless lumps are of greater concern than painless lumps
  • Hard lumps are of greater concern than soft lumps
  • Lumps that are “fixed” in place are of greater concern than lumps that move freely
  • Rough, irregular lumps are of greater concern than smooth lumps
  • Lumps that increase in size very quickly are not usually dangerous

As I said, the above are not hard and fast rules. All lumps should be assessed by a medical professional, especially if you have never had a lump before.

Many breasts become lumpy before menopause. This is due to changes in hormone levels. However, as women age they are at higher risk of developing breast cancer, so if you are close to menopause you should not assume that lumps in your breasts are normal. Danger signs that warrant immediate attention and concern include changes in the skin (dimpling or thickening), a change in the size or appearance of a breast or a change in the nipple position (including inversion of the nipple). Nipple discharge (clear, sticky or blood-tinged fluid) should also be checked carefully by a physician.

As I mentioned earlier, many women discover their own lumps while showering. Partners also sometimes discover breast lumps. It is important for women to check their breasts regularly (men should also examine their testicles for lumps routinely). Get in the habit of checking your breasts for lumps on a monthly basis. Breasts should be examined in the shower (soap helps the fingers glide smoothly over the skin). The pads of the fingers should be used to check the entire breast, moving from outside to the inside, checking the entire breast (don’t forget the armpit). Breasts should also be examined in the mirror with your arms at your sides and raised above your head. This helps you to see any obvious changes in shape or size (note that it is normal for one breast to be slightly larger). Lastly, examine your breasts while you are laying down, which allows the breast tissue to spread out along the chest wall. You should move the pads of your fingers in small circles, being sure to cover the entire breast. You should also be sure to squeeze the nipple to check for discharge.

Up to 40% of breast cancers are discovered by women, not their physicians, so get in the habit of checking your breasts monthly. If you find a lump or notice a change in one of your breasts, make an appointment and come in to see me. I can determine fairly quickly whether the lump is cause for concern and, if it is, refer you for further testing or a second opinion. You can combine your visit with a pap smear if you are due (or overdue) for your exam.

Our Location

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6301 Mill Lane, Brooklyn, NY 11234.

(718) 942-4600

 

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