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Healthy You

You Found A Breast Lump, Now What?

Monthly self-exams are important. We know our body best and often will be the first to notice something out of the ordinary. We are our best advocates when we notice a change in our body. During our monthly breast exams, women should be looking for any changes in our breasts, whether that is a lump, indentation/dimpling, or an inverted nipple. Allison DePersia, MD, Clinical Cancer Geneticist and member of the High Risk Breast Program at NorthShore, knows that finding a lump or change during your exam is nerve wracking.


Dr. DePersia helps walk us through what a typical path may look like after we find a lump:

  1. First thing to do after discovering something out of the norm should be contacting your primary care physician or gynecologist and making an appointment.
  2. Your physician will perform a clinical breast exam.  If it is not suspicious, your physician may choose to observe, but may also do imaging. If the lump or change is suspicious, imaging is usually ordered.
  3. Depending on your risk status, age, and other factors such as if you are premenopausal, your physician may have you wait and go through a menstrual cycle, or may do imaging right away.
  4. The choice to do imaging depends on age. If less than 30, your physician will often do diagnostic ultrasound. If you are over the age of 30, or at high risk, your physician may send you to do a mammogram as well as an ultrasound.  
  5. After the imaging, the breast radiologist will discuss the findings, and your physician will make recommendations for any further tests or follow up.

Dr. DePersia reminds us not to jump to conclusions because not all lumps mean breast cancer. It could be a breast cyst, a benign tumor such as a fibro adenoma, or something else. Regardless of what the outcome is, it is important to stay in tune with your body and your health. Early detection can be lifesaving.