breast lump
Any mass, swelling, or cyst that can be
felt in the breast tissue. At least 90 per
cent of lumps are noncancerous; the
rest are cancerous (see
breast cancer).
Many women have generally lumpy
breasts, with the lumps more obvious
before a period. Once known as
cystic disease
this is now
considered to be a variation of normal.
Lumpy breasts do not increase the risk
of breast cancer, but any new or distinct
lump should be medically assessed. In a
young woman, a single lump is likely to
be a noncancerous
growth is usually round, firm, and rub-
bery, causes no pain, and can be moved
about beneath the skin. In an older
woman, a lump is more likely to be a
noncancerous, fluid-filled
breast cyst.
Breast awareness
and regular
may help to detect any
changes. Treatment
cause and type of lump. Cysts can be
drained in a simple outpatient proce-
dure. Other lumps may need to be
removed surgically.
breast pump
A device that is used to draw milk from
overfull breasts during lactation
). A breast pump may also
be used to express milk for future use or
to feed a baby who is unable to suckle.
breast reconstruction
breast reduction
breast self-examination
A visual and manual examination car-
ried out by a woman to detect lumps
and other changes in her breasts that
might be a sign of early
breast cancer
To carry out self-examination, the
breasts should be checked in a mirror
for any dimpling of the skin, changes
in the appearance of the nipples, or
changes in breast size and shape. Then,
placing one arm behind the head, and
using small, circular movements, the
pressed. The entire breast, armpit area,
and nipple should be examined.
By performing regular self-examin-
ation, a woman is able to familiarize
herself with the appearance and feel of
her breasts (see
breast awareness);
abnormal changes should be reported
to a doctor without delay.
breast tenderness
Soreness or tenderness of the breasts,
frequently accompanied by a feeling of
fullness. Breast tenderness is extremely
common. In most women it is cyclical,
varying in severity in response to the
hormonal changes of the menstrual
cycle. The breasts are usually most ten-
der before a period (see
The condition tends to affect
both breasts and may be aggravated by
stress or caffeine. Breast tenderness may
also be noncyclical, caused by muscle
strain or
During lactation, it may
be due to engorgement of the breasts
with milk. Rarely, tenderness may be
due to a
breast cyst
or to
breast cancer
Examination by a doctor will exclude
any underlying problems.
Women with large breasts are more
likely to suffer from both cyclical and
noncyclical breast tenderness.
Cyclical tenderness may be relieved by
reduced caffeine intake, relaxation exer-
cises for stress, a well-fitting bra, or
weight loss to reduce breast size. If
these measures do not work, hormonal
treatment may be recommended.
breath-holding attacks
Periods during which a toddler holds
his or her breath, usually as an expres-
sion of pain, frustration, or anger. The
child usually becomes red or even blue
in the face after a few seconds, and may
faint. Breathing quickly resumes as a
natural reflex, ending the attack. Breath-
holding does not cause damage and is
usually outgrown.
The process by which air passes into
and out of the lungs to allow the blood
to take up
and dispose of
On a regular basis, examine your breasts
in a mirror and become familiar with their
general appearance. With your arms by your
side, look at your breasts and be alert to any
changes to the nipples or to the shape and
size of the breasts.
Raise each arm in turn above your head,
looking for changes in appearance. Turn
from side to side, looking at the outline of the
breasts for any changes. Examine the skin
surface for peculiarities. Orange-peel texture
could indicate the presence of a lump.
Lie on your back with a pillow under your
shoulders and head, and one arm by your
side. Using the flat ofyour other hand, and the
pads ofyour fingers, workaround the breast in
firm, small circular movements.
Raise your arm above your head on one
side and feel around the entire breast,
including the nipple. Feel also along the top
ofthe collarbone and into the armpit. Repeat
the process for the other breast.
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