Does a lump always indicate cancer?

It can be frightening to find an abnormal lump under the skin. You should always have these changes checked out by your doctor, but try not to panic—not all lumps are cancerous . At Regional Medical Center of San Jose, we provide superior breast care for cancerous and benign conditions. You’ll hear from one of our highly trained radiation oncologists when you watch the accompanying video.

Finding a breast lump
The breast is one of the many areas where abnormal lumps may develop. Breast care specialists urge women to become familiar with how their breasts usually look and feel , so that it’s easier to identify changes. Your doctor may recommend that you perform a breast self-exam once per month, and depending on your age and risk factors, you may also have a yearly mammogram.

If you do find a lump, or if you find an area of the breast or underarm that has changed, it’s best to have your doctor check it out as soon as possible. Know that most lumps found in these areas are not cancerous.

Understanding benign breast conditions
A breast lump that isn’t cancerous might not need treatment, although some of them do. Some examples of benign breast conditions are:

  • Breast cysts
  • Fibroadenomas
  • Hyperplasia
  • Intraductal papillomas
  • Sclerosing adenosis
  • Radial scars

Some benign breast conditions, while not cancerous themselves, may increase the risk of breast cancer. One example is hyperplasia, which is an overgrowth of cells.

Being diagnosed with other benign growths
Lumps can develop in many other places besides the breasts, and it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor to evaluate these unusual changes—just in case. Much of the time, patients with atypical lumps are found to have noncancerous conditions, such as the following:

  • Ganglion cysts
  • Rheumatoid arthritis nodules
  • Adenomas
  • Fibroids
  • Lipomas
  • Hemangiomas

Even when a lump isn’t cancerous, it might still need to be removed. Benign tumors can exert pressure on bodily structures, which might cause discomfort or functional impairment.

Cancer Care at Regional Medical Center of San Jose is a supportive community of friendly specialists, physicians and nurses, all of whom work together to give our patients the best possible outcome. Our oncology program is comprehensive, offering diagnostics, interventions, rehabilitation, nutrition services and psychosocial support. Call (888) 762-8881 to request a referral to a specialist.

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