Breast Lumps or Breast Mass

Comprehensive Breast Care

Our Boulder breast center near Denver delivers comprehensive breast care. We have the breast treatments and techniques to make sure you get the best care possible. We offer all kinds of breast care from treatment of breast masses and breast lumps to extensive breast cancer treatments and breast pain. When you need a Colorado breast center and a partner in your treatment, our facility is here to help.

The most common breast problems seen in consultation with a breast specialist are:

Breast Mass or Lumps

Approximately 90% of palpable breast masses (masses that can be felt) are benign and are not cancer. The most common cause of a breast mass is fibrocystic or normal tissue. The next most common causes are cysts and fibroadenomas.

Self-breast exam is the most common manner in which a breast mass is identified. A new or changing palpable mass should be further evaluated by a physician. Breast masses are categorized as being solid or cystic.

Solid Masses

Most solid masses are nodules or lumpy areas composed of fibrocystic tissue. Fibrocystic tissue is a normal type of breast tissue that is very dense. The normal breast is composed of dense fibrocystic tissue and fat marbled together in a fairly irregular pattern that causes a nodular or lumpy pattern.

Different women have varying amounts of fibrocystic tissue. Fibrocystic tissue can become engorged with hormonal fluctuations, causing one or more of the nodular/lumpy areas to enlarge and become more obvious. This engorgement can also cause breast pain, usually cyclic, which also fluctuates with the menstrual cycle. Generally the nodular area will regress when the hormone levels decrease, after the menstrual period stops. If a solid lump does not regress over one or two menstrual cycles, a needle biopsy is usually recommended to definitively identify the mass.

Fibroadenomas can also cause a solid mass in the breast. They are non-cancerous islands or clumps of dense breast tissue that grow separately from the surrounding breast tissue. Fibroadenomas are stimulated to grow by estrogen. Elevated levels, as seen with puberty, pregnancy, or hormone supplements, can cause them to grow rapidly.

Fibroadenomas can grow rapidly when the estrogen source is decreased or stopped. Usually in middle-aged, non-pregnant women, masses grow more slowly and are seen only with mammography. A needle biopsy should be done to verify the diagnosis. At this point, the woman can decide whether she wants the mass excised or not. If the fibroadenoma is not excised it should be followed over time and excision considered if sudden or rapid growth occurs.

Other, rarer, causes of solid masses include phylloides tumor, breast cancer, and metastatic cancer.

Cystic Masses

Benign cysts are the most common cause of a cystic mass in the breast. These occur normally in the breast and vary in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. They may appear quickly and are often tender. They usually vary with your period.

Cysts develop from the involution (remodeling or regression) of breast tissue. This process occurs throughout the reproductive years. After menopause (ending of the menstrual cycle), this process usually ceases. A benign or simple cyst does not need to be drained; this is done for symptomatic relief or if one is unsure of the diagnosis.

Complex cysts (part solid and part liquid) and cysts that have bloody fluid within them require further biopsy to rule out breast cancer. Only one percent of breast cysts are cancerous.

Abscesses are also fluid-filled masses that can occur in the breast. Usually an abscess will have obvious signs of infection including redness, swelling, warmth and pain. An abscess may drain spontaneously or may need treatment including drainage via needle or incision.

Treatment of Breast Mass or Lumps

  • Additional Advanced Imaging Studies
  • Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)
  • Core Needle Biopsy
  • Surgical Biopsy

Our goal is to coordinate and expedite your care so that you can focus on healing and enjoying your life. Please call us today at 303‑449‑3642 to schedule an appointment or ask a question. The entire Boulder Breast Center team is here to help.