Breast Problems

Breast Problems

What kinds of problems can women have with their breasts? — Women can have different kinds of problems with their breasts. The important thing to know is that for most but not all women, most breast related problems are not caused by breast cancer. Even so, if you develop any problem with your breasts, see a doctor or nurse to have it checked out.
Some common breast problems include:

  • Breast lumpiness
  • Single breast lump (which doctors call a "mass")
  • Breast pain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nipple discharge (meaning fluid is leaks from the nipples, such as clear, white, yellow, green, or red fluid)
  • Nipple inversion (meaning the nipples point inward instead of outward) and that is new and has occurred in just one breast
  • Changes in the skin of the breast, such as redness or puckering

These problems can happen to women of all ages. If you develop any of these problems, see your doctor . Breast problems are not usually an emergency, but you should get checked out as soon as possible. If there is something serious going on, it's important to find out quickly. Your doctor might be able to tell what's happening just by doing an exam. If not, he or she can order some tests, or send you to a specialist.

Which tests might I need? — Your doctor will decide which tests you need based on your individual situation. Common tests used to evaluate breast problems are listed below:

  • Breast ultrasound – This is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of your breast. Among other things, it can show if a lump is solid or filled with fluid.
  • Breast biopsy – During a biopsy, a doctor takes one or more tiny samples of suspicious breast tissue using a needle. The samples then go to the lab to be checked for cancer or other problems.
  • Mammogram – Mammograms are special X-rays of the breast. They can help doctors find breast cancer.

What could be causing the problem? — The breast symptoms listed above could be caused by a number of problems, most of which are not serious. For example, normal hormone changes in a woman's monthly cycle can sometimes cause breast pain or even lumps that turn out to be nothing. Still, new breast symptoms can be a sign of cancer, so it's important to see a doctor if you develop any symptom.