I'm a doctor – here's what a breast lump really feels like when it could be cancer | The Sun

IT'S one of the most common types of cancer in the UK – with close to 56,000 cases each year.

In order to prevent breast cancer, we're taught to check our boobs for any changes, including lumps.

Around one in seven women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, with this figure being one in eight in the US.

But it can be hard to know what a lump really feels like if it's cancerous.

Checking ourselves is imperative, as the earlier the illness is detected, the faster it can be treated and the better chance you have of survival.

Many people can feel lost when doing their regular checks and might dismiss a lump if it's not painful, however one doctor said this might not be the case.

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Dr Arif Kamal, a chief patient officer at the American Cancer Society said in most cases, a lump often feels like a round, hard area.

The expert said that this can either be deep in the tissue, or toward the skin itself.

"Typically it is not painful. It’s typically not easily movable but oftentimes fixed in a particular space, meaning it doesn’t shift in its location all that easily.

"In terms of shape, it is oftentimes round but sometimes it can be a little bit more irregular than that," he told the HuffingtonPost.

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When it comes to past experience, Dr Kamal said that many people have said their lump has felt like a pea in a pod, or even a frozen pea.

Most of the time, he said these lumps have been on the smaller side, but have the same texture as the vegetable.

“It’s generally on the smoother side for texture, generally more firm, generally not painful. And it generally does not feel like a cyst, which feels like a fluid collection – although even if a person feels a fluid collection, they should report that to their clinical team as well," he added.

Another expert, an assistant professor of radiology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Dr Alyssa Cubbison, added that these lumps can be difficult to move from side to side.

When checking your breasts, Dr Cubbison said you mainly want to feel around for something that is discrete.

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If you notice any of the below signs, you should book in to see your GP

  1. Lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit
  2. Change to the skin such as puckering or dimpling
  3. Change in the colour of the breast – it might look red or inflamed
  4. A change in the nipple – does it look inverted?
  5. Rash or crusting around the nipple
  6. Unusual discharge from the nipper
  7. Changes in size or shape of the breast

Dr Zoe Williams previously explained how to check your breasts.

She said: "When it comes to checking your breasts, strictly speaking there is no right or wrong way.

"What’s most important is that you do it regularly, ideally once a month, to get to know your breasts and what is normal for you.

"It is only by being familiar with “our normal” that we are likely to identify if there is a change.

"So whether you check them in bed, in the shower or in the gym changing rooms, it doesn’t matter."

However, it is important to know what you are looking for, she said.

"Look at the breasts, ideally both from the front and the side, looking for any changes in shape or size, or for any lumps, skin changes or changes to the skin of the breast or nipple.

"It’s also important to feel all of the breast tissue."

The lump, she said, will often be separate from the rest of your breast tissue.

Because the textures and densities of masses can be varied, you should be be feeling for anything different.

Even though she said this is vague, Dr Cubbison added that you can always compare one breast to the other, so you can visibly see any changes.

However, it's important to note that a lump isn't the only sign of cancer, and there are other things you should be looking out for.

The NHS says you should also look out for a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts.

Discharge from your nipples, which is streaked with blood is also another sign, as is a swelling in your armpits.

Dimpling on the skin of your breast and a rash around or on your nipple is also a red flag.

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If you check your breasts on a regular basis, these signs should be easy to spot.

But if in doubt, always speak to your GP and in an emergency, always call 999.

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