What is a Breast Nodule?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A breast nodule is basically a lump that forms in a person’s breast tissue. The vast majority of breast lumps are not cancerous and are referred to as benign. Cancerous breast lumps can prove deadly, however, which is the reason the discovery of a breast lump is worrisome and why it's important to catch them early. Doctors can perform tests and sometimes surgical biopsies to determine whether a breast lump is benign or malignant.

Breast nodules can affect men as well as women.
Breast nodules can affect men as well as women.

An individual may a develop a breast nodule in any part of her breast tissue. For example, one woman may develop one under the nipple while another may discover one in the breast tissue near her armpit. These lumps can be any size. A woman may notice a breast nodule that is the size of a pea or a lump that is larger than an egg. The size of the lump doesn’t indicate whether or not it is cancerous.

Most breast nodules are benign.
Most breast nodules are benign.

Interestingly, most people think of women when breast nodules and breast cancer are discussed. They can, however, affect men too. For this reason, a person of either gender should see a doctor right away upon discovering a breast-area lump. A doctor can help determine whether the lump is benign or cancerous and what, if anything, should be done to treat it.

As women grow older, they typically receive regular mammograms, which are x-rays of breast tissue.
As women grow older, they typically receive regular mammograms, which are x-rays of breast tissue.

Since breast cancer is a leading killer of women, females are advised to perform monthly self-examinations to check for lumps. Early detection of breast cancer can dramatically affect a person’s prognosis, so these self-checks are vital. A woman may receive an annual breast examination from her gynecologist as well. As women grow older, they typically receive regular mammograms, which are x-rays of breast tissue. Those with a family history of breast cancer may need to have mammograms at a younger age.

Treatment for breast nodules depends on the underlying cause.
Treatment for breast nodules depends on the underlying cause.

Sometimes doctors are able to use diagnostic imaging tests to determine whether or not a breast nodule is likely to be benign. If this does not provide enough certainty, however, a doctor may perform a biopsy of the breast tissue. To perform a breast biopsy, doctors remove a sample of the abnormal breast tissue and have it examined for cancer cells. Depending on the lump and the preferences of the doctor and patient, this can be done using a needle or through an operation to remove the lump. A pathologist is given the job of examining the tissue and determining whether it is benign or cancerous.

Breast cancer occurs more often than usual in some families due to their genetic make-up.
Breast cancer occurs more often than usual in some families due to their genetic make-up.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Interesting that a doctor would tell a 27 year old to just wait and see with solid nodules that are also painful. I have a history of fibroids and have even had a few of those aspirated to make sure, but now I have a solid nodule and they are recommending a guided needle biopsy. So I'm surprised by the post below. You should at least get the needle biopsy. It's done with a local and only takes a couple of hours, so no big deal.

Assuming it's benign, as most nodules are, you can then wait to see if it goes away or at least gets smaller on it's own. But if it's causing you pain, you may want to have it removed eventually. Don't let the doctors bully you into following their plan without question. If you push them or just find a more responsive doctor, it should not be a problem to do what you think is best in this situation.


I'm 27 years old, single and with no children. I was surprised when I had breast pain in my left breast, so I decided to check up with the doctor. This was in 2011. I had an ultrasound in June 2012 and found I had two solid nodules and one cyst.

I'm so worried about this. Please tell me what should I do. I told my doctor I must have a six months follow up ultrasound, just to make sure the nodules are not growing, but the doctor said I should just do a breast exam every month and if I found out they were growing, then I could have an ultrasound again. But the problem is that it is non-palpable because my breast is 75 percent granular tissue, which means that it's too dense. Please tell me what I should do about this situation.


I have been clear for two years, but found a small nodule today. My GP thinks it's nothing. Can someone advise me?


My mother found a nodule on her right breast. We went to a hospital, the doctor said she didn't need to be worried. She had a mammography test, and the doctor still didn't say anything. They took out the nodule in surgery, and after testing the nodule in the lab, the doctor said it was cancerous and she had to have surgery ASAP. I can't describe how that turned everything upside down and everyone was scared and upset, including my mom who is still kind of shocked, because no body was expecting that, and our family history is free from any cancer disease, which made her want to see another doctor. The appointment to see the second doctor is more than a month away, and she is scared the disease may spread more in her body before she gets the operation, even though they said in the hospital we shouldn't be worried about that.

She wants to make sure she really has breast cancer and needs to have her breast removed, and then will start counting her days. I'm really upset and now I need to go out of the country to see her, because I live in the US and she is living in my home country of Morocco.

I'm looking for any help from anyone who knows something or has already experienced the same story.


How long does it take for a breast nodule to go away?

I am 28 years old. I had a nodule in my right breast breast when I was 21 years old. It went away.

Then last year in October I went through the same song and dance. I found a nodule in the same breast, they did an ultrasound showing a nodule, and got referred to a breast surgeon who did a biopsy that was negative. Now almost seven months later, it is still there.


I have found a lump in my left breast going on three weeks ago. My doctor put me on an antibiotic and it did not go away. I just had a mammo/ultrasound. The mammogram came back normal, but my ultrasound found a nodule?

I don't know if it is fluid filled, what size, and if it is solid? I am being sent to a surgeon. How can an ultrasound find it, but not the mammogram? I have checked it daily and since my tests, and it looks like my lump is either breaking down -- or into three? Please advise on what I should be doing, like biopsy, removal, etc.


I had a friend who had a breast cyst once, and she totally freaked out when she found the nodule. Both her mother and grandmother had breast cancer, so she was just sure that she had it too.

Well, she went in for her doctor to check it out, and luckily it was just a cyst. They were able to drain it pretty quickly, but the funny thing was, since her doctor worked at a teaching hospital, she had to have the cyst drained in front of a group of med students!

Of course they asked her first if she was OK with that, and she was, but she said it was just kind of awkward having all those people stare at you when somebody's sticking a needle into your tata.

Have you guys ever had to do something like that?


So can somebody tell me how to tell the difference between dangerous nodules in the breast and something more benign, like a breast calcification or breast cyst?

I am just now getting to where I really worry about that stuff, and I was just really wondering if there was any way to know without having to have a breast sonogram or mammogram or whatever whether it was a cancerous or benign nodule.

Are there any tips or tricks out there for that, or do I just need to go to the doctor if I find one?



Do you know, I had read an article recently that said that the majority of women don't know how to do a breast exam correctly?

I think that's so terrible, since breast cancer is such a dangerous thing and can be so devastating physically, emotionally, and mentally.

So remember ladies, if you are at all unsure about how to do your breast check, then ask your doctor the next time you get your breast mammogram.

A nodule in your breast tissue is the scariest thing that can happen to you -- but with a little more knowledge, you can at least catch it early if it does happen to you.

Post your comments
Forgot password?