Postmenopausal Breast Lumps: What Do They Indicate?
For women, it is normal for their breasts to undergo certain changes as they get older. The breasts may decrease in size, change shape, and lose their firmness. To make things worse, the breasts increase their chances of developing some abnormal lumps. Although most of the time harmless, women must notify their doctors of new lumps. This is especially true for postmenopausal women who are at high risk of developing various kinds of chronic conditions. To understand things better, here is a quick take on postmenopausal breast lumps.
What are Postmenopausal Breast Lumps?
Changes in the shape and size of breasts are expected in Women who are approximately 40 years of age. Normally, the breast tissues become fatter and less glandular as women age. They become less full and firm. As they age, the risk of developing abnormal growths also goes up. Just like cysts, postmenopausal breast lumps are harmless oftentimes, but they could also be indicative of something more serious such as cancer of the breasts.
There is also a noticeable space between women’s breasts as they become older. The size will also decrease by at least a cup or more. The areola, or the surrounding area of the nipple, will decrease in size. As women get older, hormonal changes are the cause of these noticeable changes to the breasts.
During menopause, the breast tissues become less elastic and dehydrated because of the decreasing levels of estrogen. The breasts will start to sag and the previously round shape will be lost. On the contrary, conditions such as nipple discharge, pain, and premenstrual lumps will now be gone.
Breast lumps are usually cysts. These lumps are harmless and full of fluid. Once you detect a lump, have it checked and screened right away to rule out possible breast cancer.
After menopause, the breasts of women stay lumpy. Hormone stimulation is the cause of most benign lumps. Your breasts will feel the same if you continue to take hormones following menopause. During this period, the formation of cysts is rare. Consult your health care provider if you notice a new lump and have it thoroughly examined.
Screening for Breast Cancer
Women age 50 to 70 years are advised to undergo breast cancer screening. In places like England, such testing is being offered by the NHS to women belonging to this age group. A mammogram is the main tool for breast screening. This kind of x-ray test can detect cancers especially if they are too small to feel or see. Experts think that breast screening will benefit women as it is effective in the early detection of breast cancer.
Women age 70 and up will no longer be advised to get breast screening but they can still do so if they feel the need for it.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Postmenopausal women are prone to breast cancer because this condition commonly affects women age 50 and up. Symptoms include having a breast that is inflamed, red, or swollen. The nipple will undergo certain changes such as an unusual discharge or scaling. The skin will also undergo some kind of puckering.
Breast cancer risk usually increases as women age so individuals who are more than 70 years old have a higher risk than the lower age groups. Never assume that you are free of breast cancer once you reach 70 or above because you can never tell. Report to your doctor right away any unusual symptom you discover.
Types of Breast Lumps
A cyst is a sac filled with fluid that forms from dilated ducts or lobules when women are in their 40s or 50s. Ultrasound can be used to detect a cyst. Another way of identifying a cyst is by removal of the fluid and ensuring that there is no more lump. As they age, small cysts can grow into sizes that your fingers can easily feel. Stroma and glandular tissue start to drop as women reach the age of 50. During this time, the fatty tissue will grow in number.
A cyst is treated using a local anesthetic to numb the skin. A thin needle is then injected into the cyst to draw out the fluid. This will then be transferred into a syringe. The fluid can be green or clear yellow, oily, and dark as well as cloudy and gray. You may have to undergo biopsy if the fluid is bloody and dark. After aspiration, a cyst can be filled with fluid again.
Because they are dynamic, the breasts can undergo considerable changes in response to factors like variations in hormone production and aging. Help yourself by understanding these alterations. Know the difference between normal variations and those that may need medical help. Conditions that cause pain, lumps, or change are mostly benign.
The condition called dense breasts is usually found in younger women who have yet to reach the menopausal stage. Their breasts are made up of less fat tissue and more glandular tissue. This has nothing to do with the shape, firmness, or size of their breasts. You cannot change dense breasts and this condition is not considered an abnormality.
The problem will have dense breasts is that it can make the screening process for breast cancer harder. During a mammogram, the possible tumors can be covered by the dense tissue. The mammogram can identify breast cancers as women become older during menopause because their breast tissues usually become less dense.
In each menstrual cycle, the breasts react to progesterone and estrogen. This process includes fluid retention and growth ranging from somewhat painful to barely noticeable.
As women reach perimenopause, their hormone levels start to become unstable and their menstrual cycles can be marked with irregularity. Hormone changes can impact the breasts by causing lumpiness and increased pain. If you are looking for breast cancer symptoms, these are somewhat worrisome.
In general, a lump that becomes small as time goes by is not likely to be cancerous. On the contrary, a lump that becomes bigger or retains its size should be examined.
Arthritis of the spine, the chest wall, and cancer are among the possible causes of breast pain during the postmenopausal period.