Common ailments

Lumps in breast

I have recently noticed a couple of very small lumps, the size of peas, on the outer side of my left breast. I haven’t slept through worrying they might be cancerous and wonder whether I should visit my GP.

It is always worrying to have a lump anywhere, and particularly if it is in the breast. However, breast lumps are a common condition and may have a number of different causes.

The lumps you describe could just be cysts or perhaps fibroadenomas (fibrous tissue), though which of the two can depend on your age as fibroadenomas are most common in young women aged 15-30. If you are going through any hormonal changes, this too can often cause lumpy, swollen breasts.

Breast cysts are common and harmless. It is believed they develop naturally as the breast changes with age in response to natural changes in hormone levels. Although breast cysts can occur at any age, they tend to be more common in women over 40 who haven’t yet reached menopause.

Most breast lumps will not be a sign of breast cancer but, as a general rule, any unusual changes to the breasts should be checked out by a GP. I do therefore recommend you visit your GP who will be able to advise you on what the lumps might be. He or she will probably also refer you to the breast clinic at your local hospital for a mammogram or ultrasound scan for a more accurate diagnosis.

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