How Long To Wait After Finding A Lump In Your Breast?

Finding a lump in your breast can be one of the scariest moments in a person’s life. It is the uncertainty that’s the worst part; not knowing if it’s a minor health concern, or something that could change your life forever.

How Long To Wait After Finding A Lump In Your Breast?

When you find a lump, you will need to seek out medical assistance as soon as possible. Timing is crucial in these scenarios.

In this guide, we will look into what you should do if you find a lump in your breast, and how much time you will have to get it dealt with.

What To Do If You Find A Lump?

If you were to find a lump in your breast that wasn’t there before, it is absolutely crucial that you book an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.

It is recommended that you book an appointment with your doctor within the first two weeks of discovering the lump.

It is highly unlikely that any further complications will take place during this period, but this is the absolute longest you should wait before seeing someone.

Before seeing a doctor, (see also: What Doctor Do You See For Breast Problems?)you should gather as much information about the lump as possible, based upon what you already know. This includes:

  • When you found the lump
  • If you are experiencing any pain in your breast or armpit
  • If any discharge has come from your nipple
  • Your history of breast lumps (if you have had any previously)
  • Whether you are currently on any birth control, e.g., the contraceptive pill
  • If there is any history of breast cancer in your family

Your doctor will ask you about each of these points when you arrive at your appointment, so it will help to save time if you already have the answers prepared. This will make the appointment run smoother and more quickly, so you can move onto the next stage.

Studies have shown that only 20% of breast lumps are cancerous. This means that there is an 80% chance that the lump you’ve found is nothing to worry about.

However, this does not mean that you should take your time before making an appointment. There is always a chance that the lump could be something more serious, and if you take too long to get a diagnosis, your chances of recovering significantly lower.

What Is A Breast Lump?

Finding a lump in your breast is not uncommon, with hundreds of thousands of women across the globe visiting their doctors every year to get one checked out. 

How Long To Wait After Finding A Lump In Your Breast?

There are many reasons that someone may find a lump in their breast, and not all reasons are linked to cancer. In fact, it is fairly rare that a breast lump will contain cancerous cells; there will usually be another reason behind the lump’s existence.

Here are some less concerning reasons that a lump may form in a person’s breast.

Fat Necrosis (Fatty Growths)

A non-cancerous lump in the breast, known as fat necrosis, is formed from dead or harmed breast tissue. They typically appear during breast surgery, radiation treatment, or other traumatic damage to the breast, and are harmless overall.

The injuries caused to the breast sometimes cause fat cells to die and leak oils that condense into cyst-like little sacs. These cysts have the potential to solidify over time, and produce scar tissue.

Your doctor might not be able to distinguish between tumours brought on by breast cancer and fat necrosis. Therefore, more often than not, a biopsy will be required to make the distinction.

Roughly 3% of all breast lumps are fat necrosis. When identified, they are often left alone to disappear overtime, so no further treatment would be required following the biopsies.

Fibroadenoma (Fibrous Growths)

Fibroadenoma is another form of non-cancerous lump that can be found in a person’s breast. They are easy to move beneath the skin, and feel pretty hard, similar to marbles.

These growths are typically too small to feel by touch, and only become noticeable when the tissue surrounding them hardens.

It is believed that higher levels of oestrogen can cause fibrous growths to develop. There is a higher chance of those taking contraceptive pills developing fibroadenoma, and they can grow bigger during pregnancy.

Fibroadenomas can be left untreated since they do not cause any symptoms, and they won’t increase your chances of having breast cancer. They can be removed, however, if they cause pain, or affect the shape of your breasts.

Oil Cysts

More often than not, a lump in the breast will turn out to be a cyst. These develop when fluid builds up inside the breast, creating a hardened lump inside the fat.

While these are also non-cancerous, and they often do not cause any issues, they can become painful if left untreated. The pain may increase while you are on your period, as the increase in hormones can cause them to become more tender.

Most cysts go away on their own, while others will need to be removed or drained if they are causing pain and discomfort.

How To Examine Your Breasts For Lumps?

While it is pretty much impossible to prevent breast cancer from occurring, the best thing that you can do is to detect it as early as possible. The best way to detect breast cancer is to perform a breast examination on yourself.  

One way to examine your breasts is while standing up; you can either do this while you shower, or while standing in front of the mirror.

Raise your arm above your head, and use the fingertips on your three middle fingers to press down firmly around your breast and armpit.

You can also check while you’re lying down, as this helps the breast tissue to spread out flat, making it easier for you to feel for any lumps.

Repeat the examination on both sides. It is recommended that you perform these examinations at least once a month so that you will notice changes as soon as they occur.

Final Thoughts

Ideally, you should be booking an appointment to check your lump as soon as you have discovered it. If you have a busy life, however, this can be difficult. 

Keep in mind that you should report a lump within the first 2 weeks of discovering it. Not much will likely change within that amount of time, so you should be safe to wait a week or two before booking an appointment. 

However, we still recommend getting it checked out sooner rather than later.

Clare McAfee
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