Palpable Breast Findings

Post in Publikationen
by Amelie Hofmann-Werther


Newly recognized lumps and nodules in the breast are a reasonable cause for many women to be highly alerted. Self-detected, when showering or applying body lotion, lumps and nodules, as well as painful swellings in the breast give rise to concerns, especially when being abroad, not in your home town community and not knowing where to address your concerns to…

Good to know, that in fact most of the findings in women’s breast are of benign, meaning non-malignant, non-cancer origin. They may show up according to menstrual cycle, predominantly prior to onset of menstrual bleeding, while bleeding or mid-cycle near ovulation time.

All of a sudden, bra holders put pressure to your chest and sleeping on your belly is uncomfortable…

Now, Rule No.1 is applying: Keep calm!

What’s common, is common! And what’s rare, is rare!

And 90 % of all detected breast findings are benign, meaning non cancerous.

Nevertheless, uncertain suspicious findings all need to be thoroughly looked at.

The most common findings in a women’s breast are listed below as a brief overview

  • Structural changes of breast tissue density = Mastopathia
  • Pain & Tenderness = Mastalgia
  • Rtention of fluid = Cyste
  • Changes in duct system& glands = Papilloma
  • Benign solid nodule = Fibroma
  • Acute infammation = Mastitis


This term refers to benign, meaning non-malignant structural changes in the breast tissue, that is composed of glandular tissue, fatty tissue and fibroid tissue. Changes are due to hormone imbalance. Cysts and lumpy glandular areas may occur, combined with feeling of tension and tenderness of the breast.


Pain and tenderness mostly enhanced in the second half of mentrsual cycle close to bleeding time. The breasts may feel heavy, sensible, tense and firm or lumpy. Since the breast tissue reacts very sensible to hormonal changes, complaitns occur more often in irregular cycles and in women with bleeding disorders.


cyst is a non-malignant fluid filled dilated area of a glandular duct in the breast. It is an important entity since it can cause irritating focal pain and discompfort or cause anxiety when being palpated by a women herself as a suspicious nodule. To detect a cyst in the breast, an ultrasound examination is the assessment of first choice.


A fibroadenoma ist the most common finding amongst benign nodules in the breast. It most commonly affects young women as a solitary finding. Only 7% of patients present several fibromas. Typical criteria in ultrasound is their round to ovale shape with smooth surface and clear margins. The fibroadenoma is a benign solid mass that only in very rare cases (0,1 – 0,3 %) may include cancer precursor cells (Carcinoma in situ).


A rather rare entity with 1 - 1,5% of all findings that is located intra-ductal.80% of all Papilloma show secretion of fluid from the nipple. In case of blood stained secretion, further investigations need to be performed by a radiologist using contrast to visualize a glandular duct extension in the breast.

Abscess & Mastitis

An acute inflammation of the breast most commonly is seen in breast feeding women consulting a doctor due to acute pain, swelling, rash and maybe fever. In the the lactating breast, inflammation occurs as a result of bacteria invasion. Tiny scars in the sore nipple area allow bacteria to affect underlaying tissue and cause infection spreading along the lactation ducts of the breast.

Please note:

In case of a positive family history regarding malignant cancerous or pre-cancerous diseases in close relatives, normal check up visits with your doctor should be adjusted in frequency and intensity.

Screening-Guidelines for breast ultrasound and Mammogram for patient without pre-dispositioning high risk constellation recommend examination of the breast starting with the age of 40 and above.