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Types of Breast Lumps: Everything You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Angeli Del Rosario · Updated Jan 07, 2022

Types of Breast Lumps: Everything You Need to Know

What are Breast Lumps?

Breast lumps are growths or masses of tissue that form inside your breast. There are different types of breast lumps. They may feel different from the rest of your breast tissue and may change the shape or size of your breast.

A sign that you have breast lumps are irregularly shaped breasts and redness. Nipple discharge may also be a symptom of breast growths and cysts. While breast lumps may occur in men, they are more commonly diagnosed in women.

Types of Breast Lumps

Types of Breast Lumps: Benign

Most breast lumps are considered benign, or non-cancerous. They often have well-defined borders upon palpation. However, some benign lumps also have irregular borders. That’s why further investigation, such as through biopsy, is crucial.

Some common examples of benign breast conditions are the following:

  • Fibrocystic changes affect women around ages 20 to 50. This occurs when breast tissues and ducts react disproportionately to hormones produced during menstruation. This results in the development of multiple lumps or cysts.
  • Fibroadenomas are tumors made of firm lumps of glandular tissue which can be diagnosed in women between 18 to 35 years old. This condition creates lumps with rubbery feeling, which can be moved within the breast when pressed.
  • Papillomas are smaller lumps near the nipples. These often result in watery and/or yellowish fluid discharges from the nipple.
  • Types of Breast Lumps: Malignant

    Although most types of breast lumps are non-cancerous, malignant lumps that are left unchecked and untreated may spread cancer cells into the bloodstream.

    One of the early signs of breast cancer are hard, single lumps that are usually painless to the touch. Most malignant breast lumps appear around the upper part of the breast which extends to the armpit. Often, malignant lumps have irregular borders upon palpation.

    How Do You Check Yourself For Types of Breast Lumps?

    Regular self-examination for breast lumps can prevent further complications. It is cost-effective and convenient and can be done at any age. Here is how to do a breast self-examination:

    1.) Look at the mirror and check your breasts for any changes in shape or swelling.

    With your shoulders relaxed and arms on your hips, look if your breasts are normal in size and color. If you notice any bumps, skin bulging, changes in nipple position or redness, seek medical attention immediately.

    2.) Next, raise your arms and check if the changes persist.

    Continue to look for any changes in appearance or color. While you are looking at the mirror, check for fluid coming out of your nipples. Discharge can be watery, milky, yellowish, or even bloody.

    3.) While lying down, feel your breasts for any lumps.

    Examine both breasts one at a time with your hand. Using a firm but gentle touch, keep your fingers flat and together. Then, gently press down and use a small circular motion around your breast.

    Be sure to examine your breast from top to bottom and side-to-side using the same hand motion. Afterwards, do it from your armpit to your cleavage, and from your collarbone to the upper part of your abdomen.

    4.) While standing up, feel your breasts for any lumps.

    Like in the previous step, make sure to cover your entire breast with soft, circular motions.

    Causes of Different Types of Breast Lumps

    The different types of breast lumps may be the result of the following:

    Breast cysts

    A round and firm breast lump that feels like a marble or a frozen pea could be a cyst, an inflated milk duct that has been clogged with fluid. It may appear before or after a woman’s menstrual period and may eventually disappear after a few days.

    Fibrocystic breast changes

    A benign condition wherein the breasts experience pain and develop breast cysts or growths, making the breasts look lumpy. These masses may move easily under the skin when touched. Conditions may worsen during the menstrual period.

    Severe breast injuries and infections

    Trauma or wounds on your breast tissue may result in breast lumps. Infected fluids known as abscess may also be a cause, making the area around the breast painful and inflamed.

    Breast cancer

    Breast lumps that feel firm and irregularly shaped may be breast cancer. You may notice your breast’s change in appearance or even fluid discharges from the nipples.

    While some breast lumps can be a sign of breast cancer, it is important to note that most breast lumps are not dangerous. Your healthcare provider may determine whether you need to be treated or not.

    When Should I Go to the Doctor?

    Be familiar with how your breasts look and feel to know whether or not your breast conditions are normal or not. Consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding breast lumps, especially when:

    • You feel a lump or thickened part of your tissue that feels different from the rest of your breast.
    • Your breasts start to change in size or shape, appearing lumpy or reddish.
    • Your nipple changes shape and appears inverted.
    • Breast pain from your period does not disappear.
    • Your nipples start discharging watery or yellowish fluids (sometimes blood).

    Key Takeaway

    Breast lumps are growths that form inside the breast. They may make breasts appear lumpy or reddish. Lumps can appear during menstrual periods, fibrocystic changes, and may be caused by severe breast injuries. There are two main types of breast lumps – benign and malignant. Majority of breast lumps are benign. However, maintaining and monitoring your breasts’ health through regular self-examination and trips to the doctor will help prevent or address complications.

    Learn more about Breast Cancer here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Angeli Del Rosario · Updated Jan 07, 2022

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