A lot of women still do not perform self breast examinations because they are afraid. They are afraid that they will actually find something. Yes, 80% of lumps found in the breast are benign. If you find one, you will have to go for a breast lump screening as soon as possible. This will enable a medical specialist to determine whether or not there is a problem there.
What Specialists Look for During Breast Lump Screening
When you attend your breast lump screening, the specialist you see will ask a number of questions as these can all relate two possible causes of breast lumps. This includes:
The date of your last menstruation because a lump tends to be more prominent just before your cycle starts.
Whether you have experienced any trauma to the breast such as a blow, bite, punch, or fall. It is not unheard of for even small pets such as cats to cause lumps buy playing on their human’s chest.
Whether you are currently breastfeeding, because that could point to localized infections or mastitis.
After asking these questions, your lump will be evaluated through an imaging test. If you are aged between 35 and 40 and you have not been pregnant, an ultrasound is likely to be the first test. This can indicate whether there is a cystic or solid lump. Solid lumps do not have to be cancerous and cystic lumps generally aren’t cancerous. During the ultrasound, the specialist will be able to see whether any calcification has taken place, which can also be indicative of whether or not there is a cancerous issue. If there is a problem spotted during the ultrasound, than a mammography will usually be ordered. In the case of a woman who has been pregnant and who has breastfed, specialists will often go straight for a mammogram as the woman’s breast tissue is not as dense, which means the procedure is easier to complete. Similarly, in women over the age of 40, a mammogram is also usually the first test.
Most of the time, this will be the end of the investigation. However, if there are suspicious characteristics to the lump, such as the presence of lot of blood vessels, extra calcifications, poorly defined borders, or an irregular shape, then you may be offered a biopsy. This can be done by a breast surgeon or by a radiologist and is a simple procedure that allows specialists to microscopically evaluate the cells.
The fact that 80% of lumps are not cancerous does not mean that finding one is any less frightening. Thankfully, guidelines are in place to ensure women do not have to spend an inordinate amount of time wondering whether or not their lump is benign. Instead, women should be seen as quickly as possible and the test results should be made available as soon as possible as well. In so doing, they ensure that, if cancer is present, treatment can begin quicker as well.