'I have lumps in my breast, do I have cancer?'

  • Posted by Moderators: Biju Mathew and Gareth Butler
  • Published 16:35 July 26, 2013

24-year-old reader worried tender lumps in her breast could be a serious problem

A 24-year-old reader asks: I have two lumps in my left breast which hurt at times. The lumps are next to my underarm and when I move my hand I can feel the abnormality and pain. I have no idea about what exactly it is, and I am scared to consult a doctor. I want to make sure that it is not breast cancer. I am very young to have it. Is it possible to have such a cancerous lump at my age? My sister had this kind of abnormality, and she got it treated in Canada. Her doctors said it was Stage-1 breast cancer. Doctor, please advise.

Dr. Abdelraouf, Specialist Family Medicine at ASTER Medical Centre, Business Bay, replies: Dear Manal, I understand, from the explanation you have given, that the lump you are feeling is most probably a benign breast lump. We call it Fibroadenoma, which generally is a solid, noncancerous breast tumor that most often occurs in adolescent girls or women aged below 30 years.

The benign tumors, which usually appear round or oval smooth-edged masses, are not caused by cancer. However, the actual reason for the development of Fibroadenomas is still unknown. The most common breast tumor, usually single lumps, in adolescent women occurs in a small number of post-menopausal women. About 10 to 15 per cent of women normally will feel several lumps in both their breasts.

Fibroadenoma may appear as firm, painless, rubbery and easily moveable under the skin. Right before the period, the Fibroadenoma may swell due to hormonal changes. The incidences of Fibroadenoma generally come down with increasing age. The partially hormone-dependent lump frequently regresses after menopause. About 10 per cent of all the lumps will disappear over time.

In the question, you haven’t mentioned how big the size of the lump is. Fibroadenoma may grow in size. Based on your family history, I advise you to visit a specialist doctor to carry out ultrasound breast and blood cancer investigation that include tumor markers, which will help us rule out  the possibilities of any serious issue. Once we diagnose that it’s only a Fibroadenoma, it can easily be treated. Multiple or complex Fibroadenomas may raise the risk of breast cancer slightly.

To get a definite diagnosis of the Fibroadenoma, the specialist doctor will have to carry out a physical exam, followed by scientific investigations and tests like a breast ultrasound, mammogram and a biopsy. Teenage girls or women in their early 20s do not need a biopsy if the lump disappears on its own or if it exists over a long period.

Write with your concerns to healthmatters@gulfnews.com and selected questions will be answered by a panel of qualified doctors. Your contributions will be modified for length and appropriateness, and will be open to other Gulf News readers to comment and suggest solutions. Let us know if you would like GulfNews.com to withhold your name from your letter should it be published.

Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of doctors are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.