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Characteristics of Malignant Breast Lumps: When to Talk to Your Doctor

written by: Time2go • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 2/5/2011

Since early detection plays a role in the treatments used for breast cancer, see a doctor any time you find a new lump or an existing lump grows or changes in any way.

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    Self-Examination

    It can be a frightening ordeal to discover a lump in the breast during a self-examination, especially since most people automatically associate breast lumps with breast cancer. Being frightened is a normal response, but it is important to calm down and arrange an appointment with a doctor or visit a clinic as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis.

    If a person is conducting a self-examination on the lower part of the breast, it should feel very similar to a water-filled balloon mixed with tender and fatty parts. The upper part of the breast feels much firmer. Women should know that the breast tissue changes as women get older and fluctuate when the body’s hormone level changes.

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    What to Look For

    What does a cancerous breast lump feel like? Many have said that the tumor feels like a small pea that is rough around the edges. However, there may not be any signs or warnings of breast cancer, and that is why it is extremely important for women over the age of 40 to get a yearly mammogram.

    Other indications of cancerous breast lumps include foreign knots that have suddenly appeared in areas that they were not before, or if there is soreness in the part soreness that is unusual; these could indicate that something might be wrong. Be sure to thoroughly check both breasts, and if a person is still exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, even after menstruation, then it advised to get a check-up immediately.

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    What You May Not Know

    Often times, the lumps that are found in the breast are non-cancerous. In fact, the majority of the biopsies performed for malignant breast tumors have come back with negative results. But it is still crucial to have every unusual lump examined by a doctor immediately. Breast exams may be nerve-wracking, but the sooner cancer is discovered, the greater chance of the proper care and treatment before the cancer progresses.

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    Consult With a Professional

    Don’t be afraid to ask a physician what a cancerous lump feels like because they are the ones who can explain the signs and symptoms better than anyone. During the consultation, the doctor will manually check the breast for any cancerous lumps, and if something unusual is found in the breast, a more advanced examination may be required.Again, there is no such thing as a stupid question, especially if it may help to save a life. There is also plenty of information that can be found on the internet from legitimate sources for those who would like to research what questions to ask a doctor.

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    Detecting Cancer

    The advanced examinations could include mammograms (very important for women over 40), ultrasound, or a biopsy can be used to confirm whether or not a tumor is cancerous or benign. If the results confirm that cancer was detected, the next step will be discussing treatment options.

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    Sources

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/breast-cancer/DS00328/DSECTION=symptoms

    http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/breast-cancer/overview.html

    http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women/reproductive/breast/018.html

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