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Pseudolumps: Other Benign Breast Lumps

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Updated July 03, 2014

Your mammogram may show cysts, fibroadenomas, tumors, or other lumps that may be normal breast tissue, other kinds of tissue, or a foreign substance. Sometimes these kinds of lumps are called pseudolumps.

What Causes These Breast Lumps?:

Benign breast masses can occur in women of any age.

These lumps can have several causes:

  • A rib pressing on and compressing breast tissue
  • Hardened silicone from breast augmentation injections or leaking implants
  • An area of lumpy scar tissue remaining from breast surgery
  • Fat necrosis (dead fat), a result of trauma, surgery, or radiation

Can You Feel a Pseudolump?:

Your breasts will always have a characteristic texture, with their own cyclical lumpiness. Hormonal ebb and flow affects the lumpiness of your breast tissue, which is why you should always do your breast self-exam at the same time each month. Pseudolumps can feel more prominent than other breast tissue, particularly if they are near your skin. These breast masses may feel hard or soft, depending on what is inside of them.

Can Pseudolumps Show up on a Mammogram?:

A mammogram or ultrasound can help your doctor see what the lump may be. If you have dense breast tissue, or are nursing, it may be difficult to get clear results. A trained radiologist will be able to diagnose most common breast masses (cysts, fibrocystic masses, tumors) but may recommend more testing if there is some doubt about the composition of a breast lump.

If Pseudolumps Are Suspected, What Happens Next?:

If the lump appears to be due to hormones, you will wait through two or three menstrual cycles and watch carefully for changes. Go for a follow-up visit with your doctor if the lump(s) doesn't disappear or shrink significantly. A definite diagnosis can only be made with a biopsy, such as a core needle biopsy. The resulting tissue sample will reveal the true composition of the lump.
Source:
Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. Pages 90-91. Published in 2005.

National Institutes of Health. Silicone injection granulomas of the breast: treatment by subcutaneous mastectomy and immediate subpectoral breast implant. Chen TH. British Journal of Plastic Surgery. 1995 Mar;48(2):71-6.

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