TBS Editor's Note: I found this a very frustrating topic to research. Rather than find out what a breast cancer lump felt like, I was repeatedly told what it didn't feel like. What the hell is that? Seems very backward and indirect to me.
So here's what I did. I booked a clinical breast examination with a specialist who taught me how to check my breasts. Besides being hands on she also had a silicone breast model that came complete with a selection of breast lump types. The first time I used the silicone model, I did not find any lumps. After my lesson I found all seven.
I feel 100% more confident now that I've done this training. I highly recommend it.
If you find a lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area you will want to make a doctors appointment. If you notice a change is the size or shape of your breast, or any discharge from your nipple, call your doctor. Dimpled, puckered or scaly skin texture or color change of any part of your breast is also important to bring to the attention of your doctor.
Remember that eighty percent of breast lumps are non-cancerous (benign).
Here's the National Cancer Institutes published information on breast lumps.
First they state; A word of caution: If you find a lump or other change in your breast, don't use this information to try to diagnose it yourself. There is no substitute for a doctor's evaluation.
Followed by, Over her lifetime a woman can encounter a broad variety of breast conditions. These include normal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle as well as several types of benign lumps. What they have in common is that they are not cancer. Even for breast lumps that require a biopsy some 80 percent prove to be benign.
Each breast has 15 to 20 sections, called lobes, each with many smaller lobules. The lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can produce milk. Lobes, lobules and bulbs are all linked by thin tubes called ducts. These ducts lead to the nipple, which is centered in a dark area of skin called the aureole. The spaces between the lobules and ducts are filled with fat. There are no muscles in the breast, but muscles lie under each breast and cover the ribs.
These normal features can sometimes make the breasts feel lumpy, especially in women who are thin or who have small breasts.
In addition, from the time a girl begins to menstruate her breasts undergo regular changes each month. Many doctors believe that nearly all breasts develop some lasting changes; beginning when the woman is about 30 years old. Eventually, about half of all women will experience symptoms such as lumps, pain or nipple discharge. Generally these disappear with menopause.
Some studies show that the chances of developing benign breast changes are higher for a woman who has never had children, has irregular menstrual cycles or has a family history of breast cancer. Benign breast conditions are less common among women who take birth control pills or who are overweight. Because they generally involve the glandular tissues of the breast, benign breast conditions are more of a problem for women of child-bearing age who have more glandular breasts.
Source: National Breast Cancer Institute