Breast Health (Lumps)

What is breast health?

Over 90 per cent of all breast lumps are benign. This means that for every ten women with a breast lump, nine women will not have a cancerous lump. Benign (non-cancerous) lumps in the breast are often due to:

  • Fibroadenoma (more usual in younger women, involving a build-up of fibrous glandular tissue)
  • Cysts (these are fairly common fluid sacs in the breast tissue)
  • Breast cell changes (more usual in women over 35, these areas of the breast are lumpy in nature and are more apparent just before your period)


Your IPSA Breast Consultation

At your IPSA clinic, you will be seen for your breast consultation by one of our female IPSA physicians, who is both skilled at examining and diagnosing breast lumps, and at teaching you how to self-examine with confidence. She will also fully explain to you what you will need to look out for in the future when self-examining. At your IPSA clinic, which is always a calm and confidential setting, your care is taken seriously, your appointment is immediate, and we believe in person-centred treatment, with healing as our goal. During your IPSA breast consultation, you will be fully examined to assess the lump; if there are any suspicious findings, you will be referred immediately to the breast clinic for further investigation.


Symptoms for Breast Cancer: What To Look Out For

The first noticeable symptom of breast cancer is a breast lump. The types of changes that could be due to breast cancer include:

  • Your breast size or shape changing
  • Unusual breast swelling
  • Breast sores
  • Your skin dimpling on your breast
  • A lump or swelling in your armpit
  • A rash developing on your nipple or the surrounding area (often mistaken for eczema, with a red, scaly, sometimes itchy rash, it could be a rare form of breast cancer called Paget’s disease)
  • Discharge from your nipple that has blood in it
  • A change in your nipple shape (especially if the nipple sinks into your breast, turns inwards or develops an irregular shape)

At your IPSA clinic, your female doctor will discuss your family history and lifestyle with you to assess your risk of breast cancer. If necessary, you will be offered full bloods, including tumour markers for BRCa1 and BRCA2.


Breast Pain

Most breast pain is not due to cancer. Breast pain is very common, with many healthy women finding that their breasts do feel lumpy and tender just before their period.

With some benign breast lumps being painful, and with some breast cancers causing pain, it is important to see your IPSA practitioner to put your mind at rest, particularly if your breast is both painful and inflamed at the same time.


Women’s Health and the Breast Clinic

If any changes in your breasts are unusual for you, it is best to see your IPSA practitioner, as it is probably benign and can be treated easily. Your mind will be put to rest.

If it does turn out to be cancer, going to your IPSA doctor early will give you the best chance of successful treatment.

Your IPSA doctor will examine you and will send you to a specialist breast clinic for further checks if necessary.

At the clinic, a mammogram or ultrasound will be used to see if the lump is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid lump.

For cysts, the doctor or nurse may choose the option of draining the fluid out through a fine needle. For a solid lump, a very fine needle will be used to take a small tissue sample to test for the presence of cancer cells.

Remember: If your breast lump is a cancer, then early breast cancer treatment means a better chance of a cure.
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