Finding a lump in your breast is a frightening experience. Most women immediately think of breast cancer. The good news is that most lumps women find are not cancerous. However, because most cancers women discover themselves do have a lump present, it is important to have a healthcare provider evaluate any lumps or changes.
After finding a lump, call and make an appointment with a physician or nurse to have the area evaluated.
Having the answers to the following questions will allow your healthcare provider to effectively evaluate your breast lump or change.
- How old are you?
- Are you still having menstrual periods?
- Are you on Estrogen therapy or birth control pill?
- When did you find the lump? (date)
- What size is the lump? (size of a pea, penny, quarter)
- Describe the lump. Is it soft or hard? Is it movable or non-movable in the breast?
- Do you have a discharge in the same breast?
- At what time in your menstrual period did you find the lump?
- Have you observed it while going through a menstrual cycle? If yes, did it get softer or smaller during or after your menstrual period?
- Have you ever had a mammogram? If yes, when and what were the results?
- Have you ever had a breast biopsy?
- Do you have a family history of breast cancer on either your mother or father’s side of the family? If yes, who in your family had breast cancer? How old were they when they were diagnosed?
- Has anyone in your mother or father’s side had ovarian cancer? If yes, how old were they when diagnosed?
If you have questions during the time you are waiting for your appointment, call the center where you are scheduled and ask to speak to a nurse.
Remember, no one can diagnose breast cancer with their fingers. Your healthcare provider will examine your breast by doing a clinical breast exam and will then refer you for an ultrasound or a mammogram to further evaluate the area.
An ultrasound is a painless test that uses sound waves to evaluate the lump to see if it is solid or filled with fluid. A mammogram compresses your breast between two compression paddles and takes pictures from several angles. If you have had previous mammograms and are going to a different facility, it will speed up your diagnosis if you take your previous films with you or have them sent to the center you are going to for evaluation. A physician will read the films and send a report to your referring physician. Your physician will notify you of the results.