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Breast Symptoms

Normal breast tissue under the skin has a soft consistency throughout the breast except immediately around the nipple area. There are no muscles in the breasts, but muscles lie under each breast and cover the ribs. The normal breast of a mature woman may feel nodular or fibrous. These structures inside the breasts can sometimes make them feel lumpy. Such lumpiness may be especially noticeable in women who are thin or who have small breasts. The nipple usually has a slightly firmer consistency, but is symmetrical and smooth.

Breast lumps are unusual clumps, bumps, bulges, mounds or masses of tissue located anywhere in one or both breasts, even in the tissue that extends up towards the region under the arm, known as the axilla. These lumps can either be benign breast disease or malignant breast disease.

The look and feel of breast lumps vary by:
  • Size: pea-size to plum-size or larger
  • Shape: may be round with regular, smooth borders or have an irregular shape with ill-defined borders
  • Feel: may be painless or painful to touch
  • Location: can be densely attached and fixed to the underlying chest wall or can be mobile and more superficial towards the surface of the skin
  • Color/texture: wrinkling, dimpling or unusually pink or red appearance of skin around the lump.

Majority of breast lumps are not cancerous but represent changes within the breast tissue. As your breasts develop, changes occur. These changes are influenced by normal hormonal variations.

Breast pain is a common breast problem mostly in younger women who are still having their periods and is also known as mastalgia. Breast pain or tenderness may also occur in a teenage boy. The condition is called gynaecomastia and is an enlargement of the male breast, which may occur as a normal part of development, often during puberty. Breast pain alone rarely signifies breast cancer.