Common breast problems

What kinds of problems can women have with their breasts?

There can be different types of breast related problems. However, not all of them are caused by breast cancer. If you are having any breast related problems, always consult a doctor as soon as possible to have it checked before coming to conclusions yourself.

Common breast related problems include:

  • Lumpiness of breasts
  • Lump (or mass) in one breast
  • Breast pain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Abnormal discharge from the nipples (leaky fluid, could be clear, white, yellow, green or red in colour)
  • Nipple inversion (new and especially if only occurring in one breast)
  • Breast skin changes (redness, puckering)

These problems related to breast cancer can occur in any age and should always be discussed in detail with a doctor. Problems related to breasts are not an acute emergency, however, they should be checked as soon as possible to see if there is something serious underlying. Your doctor should give advice based on your medical history and examination, or may refer for further investigations with a specialist.

Which tests might I need?

Tests needed depend upon the individual case. Common investigations for breast problems include:

  • Breast ultrasound: sound waves are used to get an image of inside of your breasts. It can show solid and fluid filled lumps in breasts.
  • Mammogram: specialised X-rays of the breast, helpful to find problems like breast cancer.
  • Breast biopsy: using a needle to get one or more tiny tissue samples of concerning breast tissue and getting it examined under a microscope by a pathologist to check for cancer or any other issue.

What could be causing the problem?

The breast related symptoms listed above could be caused by many non-cancerous problems like normal changes in hormones during the monthly menstrual cycle causing breast pain or lumps. However, any new breast related symptoms should be taken seriously as it can be a sign of a tumour. Therefore it’s important to consult with your doctor as soon as you notice them.