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Breast problems, such as breast lumps, breast pain or tenderness, nipple discharge or inversion, and changes in the skin of the breast, are common in women of all ages, from adolescents to older women. While it can be frightening to discover a new breast problem, most breast problems are not caused by breast cancer.
Yes, breast cancer is one of the deadliest diseases among women. Cancer is the uncontrollable development of abnormal cells in the body and is the second-leading cause of death in the world.
However, cancer is not the only problem you may experience with your breasts. Changes in breasts are common, but some cases need medical attention.
This topic will review some of the most common breast problems, including those that you or your healthcare provider may find.
These are common and may grow anywhere in the body not just the breasts. Lumps may vary in size and can be benign or cancerous. They can be sac-like and filled with fluid or solid. Sometimes, lumps are caused by injury, heredity, and tumors. About 20% of breast lumps are cancerous. Sometimes a lump doesn’t need any medical treatment at all unless it causes pain.
Common types of lumps include cysts and fibroadenomas.
Some causes are fatty lumps, simple or milk cysts, and papilloma. Lumps may not need any medical treatment but if they are of concern seek a healthcare professional immediately. Tests can be performed to determine if the breast lump is safe or not.
Breast pain or mastalgia is a common problem of the breast. It can occur on either breast, and you may feel tenderness, sharp pain, or tightening. It can happen during puberty and after the menopausal stage.
Common causes of breast pain include the following:
- Menstrual Cycle
- Chest Wall Pain
These are some remedies to relieve the pain:
- Use a hot or cold compress
- Wear a fitted and supportive bra
- Undergo therapy
- Take over-the-counter medicine as recommended by a doctor.
Nipple discharge is common during pregnancy and for a breastfeeding mother. It’s fluid leakage from the breast. However, an unexpected discharge is alarming to a woman who isn’t breastfeeding. A discharge may look milky, brown, green, yellow, or sometimes bloody. Even so, color and texture aren’t enough to determine whether the nipple discharge is normal.
Possible causes of nipple discharge are:
- Trauma in the breast
- Breast cancer.
Some may be effects of medication, such as birth control pills, hormonal changes, or breast stimulation. Medication and treatment for nipple discharge may depend on the cause.
Breast Infection or Mastitis
Mastitis occurs in breastfeeding women, or more commonly when breastfeeding is ceased. About 1% to 3% of women develop mastitis. Sometimes breast infections or mastitis don’t need medication and go away on their own. However, if bacteria enters the breast through a cracked or sore nipple and is not treated promptly, it might have serious complications. Among these complications are:
- Breastfeeding problems
- Fever and chills
- Tenderness of the breast
- Breast abscess.
Non-infectious mastitis is treated without the use of antibiotics, but the doctor will ask about the severity of the symptoms.
Mastitis treatments may include:
- Taking pain relievers
- Taking antibiotics
- Changing the breastfeeding routine
- Massaging the breast.
Retracted nipples are often developed at birth. The nipple points inward instead of outward. It may interfere with your breastfeeding journey. It can also occur in men, but it’s more common among women. It’s estimated that 10 – 20% of women have inverted nipples. Some cases must be taken seriously, especially if you experience these symptoms:
- Nipple discharge
- Skin changes on the nipple
- Soreness of the nipple
- Lump on the nipple.
The following can help you deal with a retracted nipple:
- Use a breast pump or syringe
- Undergo a surgery
- Use a warm compress.
Breast problems are common to women of all ages and may include the development of lumps, breast pain, nipple discharge, infection, and injury.
Although some breast problems are not alarming, you should consult your doctor to have any changes checked. Some cases need further tests and evaluations to determine if they’re serious or not. Most importantly, be familiar with how your breasts feel normally. Do a self-examination every month and keep your breasts healthy by eating a proper diet and practicing healthy lifestyle habits.