Breast lumps

What are breast lumps?

Breastfeeding mothers sometimes notice lumps in their breasts. Lumps may be normal or they may be problematic. When breastfeeding, it is normal to feel numerous, small lumps in the breast. They are often round, rubbery, less than half a centimetre (1/4 inch) wide, similar throughout both breasts, and become less noticeable with time. They do not cause pain, they move easily, and they often shrink with breastfeeding or expressing. Other lumps cause problems and may be caused by plugged ducts, cysts, mastitis, abscesses, benign tumours, or breast cancer. There are a number of ways to examine lumps of concern.

A) Normal breast lumps

When a mother is breastfeeding, her breasts may occasionally feel more textured than usual. This is caused by milk tissue and fat and is normal. When the milk builds up, the lumps may be slightly larger and firmer. Mothers may notice that the lumps:

  • Are often round.
  • Feel rubbery.
  • Are not painful.
  • Are less than 1/2 centimetre (1/4 inch) wide.
  • Are similar throughout both breasts.
  • Are numerous in each breast.
  • Move easily in the breast.
  • Are not attached to the skin of the breast .
  • Are not associated with bleeding or skin changes.
  • Often shrink with breastfeeding or expressing
  • Become less noticeable with time.

Breast tissue can be present away from the breast, in the armpits or anywhere along the milk line. It can cause tender lumps in these areas after birth.

C) Managing breast lumps

If a breast lump persists for more than one week, mothers should see their health-care providers. Lumps can be examined using one or more of the following:

  • Ultrasound
  • Mammogram
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Biopsy