lump (breast)

Last reviewed 01/2018

The clinical assessment of a "breast lump" should consider:

  • age:
    • carcinoma - more likely around and after the menopause
    • fibroadenoma - more common in young women

  • predisposing events:
    • trauma - fat necrosis
    • breast feeding - mastitis / abscess

  • timing:
    • fibroadenosis may produce a painful, lumpy breast prior to menstruation

  • consistency:
    • hard - a discrete lump suggests fibroadenoma if it is solid with a smooth surface, or a fibroadenotic cyst if fluctuant; a poorly defined margin or evidence of tethering suggests carcinoma, or non-infective mastitis
    • soft - suggests a lipoma or a lax cyst

  • tenderness