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When to worry about a lump in my breast?

DR BOIMA
HEALTH ISSUES

You are in the shower, conducting your monthly breast self-examination as per last week’s discussion, suddenly your hand freezes; you have felt a lump! Do you panic or not? What is the next step?

Finding a lump in one’s breast can be scary. It is important to remember that most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous) in 9 out of 10 cases. However, a breast lump can be a sign of cancer, so one should always have it checked by the doctor as soon as they discover it. The chances that a particular breast lump could be cancerous depend on many factors, including age, past medical history, lifestyle habits, genetics and other risk factors and the doctor’s findings.

What causes lumps?

Hormones are chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the blood, which carries them to organs and tissues of the body to execute their functions. One such tissue is the breast (in both females and males). Hormonal changes that occur at different times especially in a woman's life, such as during the menstrual cycle can cause lumps to form and in some cases, to naturally disappear.

For instance it’s normal for most women to get tender breasts with lumps just before their menses and these usually disappear by the time they finish their period. Infections and trauma to the breast can also cause breasts to have lumps.

Common types of lumps

Fibroadenomas – these are the most common lumps and they occur in young people (less than 30yrs). They are non-cancerous and tend to develop more in teenagers and in pregnancy. The lumps are usually round, smooth and move around easily under the skin. Fibroadenomas can disappear on their own or occasionally remain in the breast. If the fibroadenoma doesn’t grow overtime the doctor may decide to simply leave it alone, however if it is growing larger and is causing a bit of pain it may need to be surgically removed for comfort or cosmetic reasons.

Breast cysts – Breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop within the breast tissue and can cause smooth, firm lumps to develop. They often do not cause any symptoms but can be a little painful depending on their size. They are more common in women aged 30 to 60. As with fibroadenomas, hormonal changes are thought to play a role in the development of breast cysts.

Breast abscess – A breast abscess is a painful collection of pus that forms inside the breast. Other symptoms of a breast abscess can include a high temperature (fever) and inflammation (redness, hotness and swelling) of the skin over the affected area. Most breast abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria usually enter the breast through small cracks or breaks in the skin of the nipple, which is very common during breastfeeding.

Breast cancer – one should start worrying if the lump they discovered is characterized by the following features;
Doesn’t move around

It’s painless

It feels very firm and hard

It feels irregular

It persists after your period (and continues growing larger)

It develops after the menopause (in women)

Apart from a breast lump, breast cancer can also cause other symptoms like a change in the size, shape or feel of a breast, abnormal discharge from the nipples, orange-skin of your breasts, sunken nipple and later on weight loss. Breast cancer is more common in women and men over the age of 50 and with a family history of breast (and ovarian) cancers.

What’s next after a lump?

If upon evaluation the doctor confirms that there is a lump, there will be further tests done such as a mammogram (good for elderly over 50yrs) or ultrasound (good for young women) to see if the lump is a fluid filled cyst or a solid lump. If it is a cyst, the doctor or nurse may get rid of it by draining the fluid out through a fine needle. If it is a solid lump, they will take a tissue sample (biopsy) to test for cancer cells. Most women prefer to have benign lumps removed to stop them from worrying them that it may be a cancer. If the result of the biopsy confirms cancer, the earlier the cancer treatment the better the chance of a cure! Treatment options are lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

In commemoration of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For comments or questions please email agboima@yahoo.com

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On Saturday 29 October 2022 (11:00- 15:00) Bash Connektor will be presenting their 1st TatsoConnekt Leading Women Brunch which will be hosted by Basadi’Bash’Masimolole. Tatso. A Setswana word. Taste  .Tatso / ta-tso/. verb.

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Bash Connektor is a Marketing Company with a twist founded in March 2022 by Basadi Bash Masimolole who has 15 years plus Marketing Experience. The INTENT of Bash Connektor is to Link People, Experiences, and Brands. The K instead of C is INTENTIONAL. We are all about contributing towards AMPLIFYING brand and country messages through curating experiential offerings and connekting conversations that matter, said Basadi Masimolole.

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Individuals interested in purchasing the limited number tickets or Brands interested in participating on the TatsoConnekt Leading Women Brunch through sponsorships/ brand placement opportunities can reach Basadi’Bash’Masimolole on +267 7140 6660 / masimololebasadi@gmail.com / Bash Connektor Facebook page.

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