Approximately 15% of female cancer in the United States is of the breast, second to skin cancer. Discuss with your peers when a patient presents to you with a breast mass, what are your differentials? What is your plan of care for a patient who presents with a breast mass, both cancerous and noncancerous?
When a patient presents with a breast mass, there are several potential differential diagnoses that should be considered. The differential diagnosis will depend on several factors, including the age of the patient, the characteristics of the mass, and the presence or absence of other symptoms.
Possible differentials for a breast mass include:
Fibroadenoma: A benign breast tumor that is most commonly seen in women under 30.
Cyst: A fluid-filled sac that is common in women in their 30s and 40s.
Breast abscess: An infection in the breast tissue that can cause a painful lump.
Lipoma: A noncancerous growth of fatty tissue that can develop anywhere in the body.
Mastitis: An infection of the breast tissue that can cause a painful lump.
Breast cancer: A malignant tumor that can occur in both women and men.
When a patient presents with a breast mass, the first step is to obtain a thorough medical history and perform a physical examination. The physician will assess the size, shape, location, and consistency of the mass. Imaging tests, such as mammography, ultrasound, or MRI, may be ordered to further evaluate the mass and determine if there are any signs of cancer.
If the mass is found to be cancerous, treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these. The specific treatment plan will depend on the type and stage of the cancer.
If the mass is found to be noncancerous, the physician may choose to monitor the mass with regular follow-up appointments or recommend surgical removal if it is causing discomfort or if the patient desires it.
It is important to note that any breast mass should be evaluated by a physician, regardless of age or other factors, as early detection and treatment can improve outcomes for both cancerous and noncancerous masses.