By Dr. Kathleen Ruddy

There can be many causes for lumps in breasts. Just because you find a lump, it does not always mean that you have cancer. The various conditions known to cause lumps in breasts are typically benign and can be treated by a doctor. In more serious cases, a lump could be a sign of breast cancer. No matter your age, you should always have a lump looked at by a doctor in order to rule out something serious so you can begin treatment as soon as possible. Below you’ll find some common causes for lumps in breasts.

Fibrocystic Changes

Fibrocystic changes can occur in one or both breasts. They normally occur in the upper and outer areas of the breast. When you’re experiencing fibrocystic changes, you may feel a thickening or fullness of the fibrous tissue that surrounds your glands. Common lumps, or fibroadenomas, typically will happen during the reproductive years and are less likely to occur in postmenopausal women. These lumps will feel rubbery and movable.


Cysts can occur in many different parts of the body. Breast cysts occur most often in a woman’s body right before or during her period. The cyst will normally feel tender for a few days and then it will go away on its own. If you find that the cyst lasts for a long period of time or becomes larger, you should see a doctor.


According to the American Cancer Society, 39,510 people died due to breast cancer and breast cancer complications in 2012.

Duct Ectasia

Duct ectasia is a common condition in women of premenopausal age. This condition occurs when glands in the breast become blocked or clogged. One symptom of this condition includes having a lump appear in the breast. The lump is typically caused by a thickening of the clogged duct. Many times this can be treated by applying warm compresses to the breast.

Breast Cancer

Unfortunately, some lumps may be cancerous. Breast cancer is usually associated with factors such as age and genetics. In most cases, breast cancer occurs in women over the age of 40. In order to increase your chances of finding it early, you should begin self breast exams as early as your 20s and begin getting annual mammograms once you turn 40.


Mastitis is an infection that happens in the breast tissue. It will typically result in breast pain and swelling, and it will be warm to the touch. This condition is most common in women who are breastfeeding or have just recently given birth. Since this is an infection, you’ll want to see a doctor to receive an oral antibiotic.

Finding lumps in your breasts can be a frightening experience. There are many causes for lumps, however. It’s extremely important to pay a visit to your doctor if you find a lump, especially if you’re over the age of 40 or have a family history of breast cancer. In most cases lumps in breasts are not going to be a major cause for alarm, but it’s always better to air on the side of caution.

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