What Causes a Lump on the Sternum?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2018
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Unexplained lumps in any area of the body are a cause of concern for many individuals. One such common complaint is the presence of a lump on the sternum in the chest. Although individuals may fear a tumor or some other serious cause, in a large percentage of cases the most probable explanation for a sternum lump is found in a normal body part: the xiphoid process. Other issues such as hernias or tumors may be responsible in some cases, however.

The sternum is one of the primary bone structures in the chest. This structure runs vertically through the middle of the upper body. Its primary function lays in anchoring and connecting the ribs. The sternum begins with a dip at the base of the throat called the sternal notch. The resulting V-shape may feel like one or two knots. These lumps are normal.

Around roughly the center of the chest, the sternum ends in a bone and cartilage protrusion. The protrusion is known as the xiphoid process or xiphisternum, and different individuals have varying sizes and shapes of the structure. In some individuals, the xiphoid process is more prominent and sticks out away from the chest. This anatomical feature may feel like a hard lump on the sternum, especially if an individual is in a reclining position. Weight loss may also cause the xiphoid process to become more noticeable.


The xiphoid process is the likeliest explanation for many concerns regarding a sternum lump or sternum knot, but on occasion a medical issue may facilitate a lump on the sternum. Hernias are another common cause for body masses. These conditions result when part of an organ pushes against or even through the internal barrier that houses it. In the case of a lump on the sternum, protrusion of the stomach or the intestines may create the sensation. This type of hernia may be soft or hard and have associated pain, and it may be caused by a birth defect or by overexertion of the related bodily area.

In rare cases, a lump on the sternum may result from a tumor. Such masses found in the sternum are often benign or non-cancerous. A cancerous tumor around the sternum usually occurs due to a malignancy’s spread from a neighboring structure like the lungs. Either tumor type may or may not feature chest pain and fever as additional symptoms, depending on the size and precise location of the mass. Sternum tumors are one of the least common types of cancer.


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Discuss this Article

Post 15

Has anyone had chiropractic for this pain? An acquaintance

told me it helped immensely. I just don't want to waste money, especially since chiropractors want you to keep coming back and I can't afford that.

Post 13

For years, I have had this pain in the xiphoid process area. I found two hard lumps. When I lost 50 pounds, I really got to hurting with indigestion and heartburn. I had an ultrasound twice, and a CT scan. One doctor said is was musculus-skeletal, while another said it was my ribs. One doctor said it's a hernia. I really don't know, but I wish someone would tell me why it hurts so much.

Post 12

Indigestion may be a function of gluten. Stop for a month, and see what happens.

Post 8

A lump on your sternum could be a sign of sapho syndrome. Look it up. The info is there. I have it and it is painful and a very rare autoimmune disease. I need to be seen by a rheumatologist. A regular doctor will be dumbfounded. It is a bone, joint and skin disease. It is more common in Europe and Japan. Good luck and I hope the pain gets better.

Post 7

This article makes me feel at ease. I just saw my doctor a while ago to have a check up on my sternum because I can feel lump in the center of my chest. I had an excessive weight loss of 20 pounds in two months. I felt it when I reclined to do a breast exam. I will have a chest pa and ultrasound on Monday. Let's hope for the best. I am about to be in the best shape of my whole life. I went from 165 pounds to 138 pounds. That's a thing I don't want to be interrupted by this. This will never break me.

Post 6

Regarding POST 5: Iry essential oils to help your left side. I've been experiencing the same issues, clear mri's, nerve testing, etc. There are therapeutic type oils sold online that have really helped me. The "Raindrop" treatment (you can buy a kit) really helps, too. Also, I've been juicing lots of dark greens (cabbage, kale, collard greens). My symptoms have really improved!

Post 5

I had a complete splenectomy, partial reduction to my liver and removal of my floating left side rib after a bad fall. It's now been six months since the op. I've had my regular checkups, but now find that I'm in pain on my whole left side, in acute pain, which results in my whole left side going numb in pain.

I've had to stay in one position for several hours, even now in writing this message, Ii feel a tingling sensation on my left side.

I'm just irritated that I can't find a solution to this even after several MRIs, neurosurgeon visits and CT scans. The doctors are at a loss and I'm close to losing my wits. Can anyone please help?

Post 4

Why bother? they'll just take your money, make you feel like a hypochondriac, tell you it's musculo-skeletal, do nothing at all to make you feel better and tell you to take some antacids and come back in a couple weeks if it still hurts when you don't eat. Never mind that what you said was it hurts like someone's killing you when you do eat, not when you don't. Losing thirty pounds should have been a clue, though.

Post 3

An excellent site for concise and informed answers.

Post 2

There is a condition that happens in the area of the sternum where cartilage holds the bones together.The cartilage becomes irritated. This condition can be quite painful. It is called Tietze's syndrome.

Besides pain, symptoms include, high fever, nausea, difficulty breathing, redness and swelling.

It sometimes gets severe, but usually improves on its own.

Post 1

It's human nature to imagine the worst. We're all kind of cancer-phobic. When we notice a bump or a lump, we immediately think "cancer?"

Of course, when you discover something unusual with your body, you should go have it checked out.

This article's information tells us that a lump on the sternum is usually nothing to be concerned about. The cartilage is just a part of our bodies. This xiphoid process sticks out more in some people than in others.

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