We tend to think of breasts as a woman’s thing, so you may be surprised to know the breast is actually gender neutral.
The difference between the breasts of a male and that of female is the amount of breast tissue. Men have a small amount of breast tissue behind their nipples.
Until puberty, both male and female have a small amount of breast tissue behind the nipple and areola (the darker area of skin around the nipple). Basically, the hormones that kick in during puberty cause females’ breasts to grow. At puberty, both genders begin to produce the hormone oestrogen. In females, this leads to breast tissue developing while in some boys oestrogen also causes breast swelling but this is temporary and their breast tissue doesn’t develop. At puberty, males begin to make more of the hormone testosterone which acts against the effects of oestrogen.
Sometimes as men get older, or as a side effect of certain drugs, the balance between these hormones changes. This can cause breast tissue to swell, which is called gynaecomastia and this is not linked with breast cancer
What is breast lump?
A mass that develops in the breast, it varies in size and texture and may cause pain. Most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). Breast lumps can also occur in men but it is uncommon. Although, breast lump can be a sign of cancer, it is advised to always seek a medical evaluation of any lump or swelling you discover in your breasts.
Hormonal changes can cause lumps to form and in some cases and it naturally disappears. Development of breast lumps can occur at any age. Some babies develop breast lumps due to the estrogen they get from their mothers during birth. These generally clear up as the estrogen declines in their bodies.
Before puberty, some girls develop breast lumps that feels tender but usually disappear during puberty. Adolescent boys can also have breast lumps during puberty, these are temporary and usually disappear in a few months as well.
The chances that a particular breast lump could be cancerous depend on many factors, including past medical history, physical examination, as well as genetic and other risk factors. The only way to be certain that a lump is not cancerous is to have a tissue sampling (biopsy).
Causes of breast lump
There are many causes of breast lumps. Some of these causes are harmless, while others can be dangerous.
Causes of breast lumps include
- Hormonal changes.
- non-cancerous growths
Physical examination: a manual examination of the best is an important screening method for detecting breast lump.
- How to check for breast lump
It is important for women to be familiar with their bodies and their breasts. Knowing how the breasts normally feel can help to recognize any abnormality.
The following guidelines will help women carry out a self breast examination.
- Step 1 – Looking in a mirror, check the size, shape, and color and look for visible swellings or lumps
- Step 2 – Raise the arms and repeat step 1.
- Step 3 – Check for any discharge from the nipples that may be watery, milky, yellow, or with blood.
- Step 4 – Feel the breasts with a firm, smooth motion while lying down, including under the arms and down to the ribcage.
- Step 5 – Repeat step 4 while standing or sitting, It may be easier in the shower.
Others ways of diagnosis are Mammogram, Ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
The cause of breast lump must be determined before the treatment plan can be formulated. However, not all breast lumps will need treatment.
If the lump is found to be cancerous, there will be need for further evaluation and treatment can include:
- lumpectomy, (removing the lump).
- Mastectomy (removing your breast tissue).
- chemotherapy (use of drugs to fight cancer)
- radiation (use of radioactive rays to fight cancer)
Treatment will depend on the type of breast cancer, the size and location of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast.
There are other causes of breast lumps which do not require any treatment. If you have a breast lump due to an injury, allowing your breast time to heal may be recommended. Some types of breast lump, such as fibroadenoma, in many cases do not need to be removed or treated. Your doctor can help determine if the lump requires further evaluation and if any treatment is needed.
Prevention of Breast Lumps Related To Cancer
Many benign breast lumps are due to changes in the body and may form without any other symptoms. There are no proven ways to prevent malignant breast lumps, but you can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer:
- Know your risk factors.
- Do monthly breast examination.
- Get regular clinical breast exams (and mammograms if you are age 40 or older).
- Talk to your doctor about genetic counseling if you have a family history.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat healthy diet.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
- Avoid smoking or secondhand smoke.