Q: What should I do if I find a lump in my breast?
It’s natural to be worried if you find a lump in your breast but, try not to panic. Most lumps that appear in the breast are typically not cancerous. Still, anytime you notice changes with your breast, the most important thing to do is schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to get it checked out.
During the appointment, show your doctor where the lump was found. They will want to feel the lump to check its size, shape, and texture, as well as whether it moves inside the breast. They will also ask you about your medical history and about any history of cancer in your family.
Your doctor may recommend some follow-up tests. These could include a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or MRI of the breast. 3D mammography is a new technology now offered at Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic. Our Hologic Selenia Dimensions mammography system provides some of the highest quality digital images in Hawaii. If you’d like to schedule a mammogram screening, or learn more about Maui Health’s Imaging services, call (808) 243-3012 or visit mauihealth.org/mammogram.
These tests might find that your breasts are normal or show that you have a benign breast condition. In other cases, they might indicate that the lump is not cancer but, your doctor may want you to come back for another screening in four to six months to monitor for any changes.
If these tests can’t rule out breast cancer, your doctor may need to follow up with a biopsy. This involves removing a small tissue sample from the affected area and examining it to see if cancer cells are present.
Finding a lump can be scary, but remember that most breast cancers are highly treatable when they’re caught early. That is also why staying on top of annual mammograms once your doctor recommends starting them is so important for women. If you miss a lump yourself during your regular self-checks, your doctor can find it during your annual exam.
If you need a screening mammogram and don’t have insurance, Maui Health Foundation may be able to help. Through their annual Kokua For A Cause fundraiser, they have been able to provide hundreds of screening mammograms and biopsies for uninsured and underinsured women on Maui. To learn more, or help contribute to Kokua For A Cause, visit mauihealth.org/kokua.