I’m kind of freaking out because I randomly felt a lump in my breast the other day! I even had my boyfriend check to make sure he felt it too and he does. I’ve been to the gyno and had a breast exam before but it’s been a while. I’m really scared – does this mean I have breast cancer? I feel weird going to the gyno for something like this, but I don’t know what else to do. Is it normal to have lumps in your breasts? Please help!
First things first: take a deep breath and relax! Finding a lump in your breast does not automatically mean that you have cancer. I completely understand how scary it is – once I found a lump in my armpit and I was convinced I was dying (turns out it was just swollen glands) – but freaking out isn’t going to help the situation at all. Take it from me, I’ve been there.
Let’s go over the good news first: 80 percent of lumps found in breasts are benign, which is a fancy word for “cancer-free.” Also, breast cancer generally affects older women over the age of 30 (although it can of course affect younger women also). So, chances are, your lump isn’t something to panic over.
Now it’s time for the not-so-good news: you should definitely head over to the gyno to get it checked out anyway. And, really, that news isn’t even that bad. While chances are good that your lump is nothing to worry about, it’s still really important to stay on top of your health. Trust me, your doctor isn’t going to think you’re crazy or dramatic for coming in to get a breast exam. You’re concerned about your health – there’s nothing crazy about that!
So what could this lump be? Well for starters, some breasts are just lumpier than others, so this could just be a lump you’ve maybe never noticed before. It could be a cyst – cysts sound scary, but they’re actually pretty common and can sometimes come and go throughout your menstrual cycle. It could be fibroadenoma, which is an excess formation of lobules (the glands that produce milk). The lump could also be the result of an injury you had that maybe you forgot about. The point is, a lump in your breast could mean a lot of things, not just cancer – although that is typically the first thing to pop into our minds.
Head over to the doctor and make sure you’re keeping up on your breast exams. If you can’t make it to the gyno all the time, do a monthly breast exam on yourself (use this handy guide to figure out what to do). I’m not going to lie, it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world, but you should still do it. Even though teens don’t have a huge risk of breast cancer, it’s still possible, which means it’s still important to watch out for yourself.
What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at firstname.lastname@example.org