TABLE 82 Common Breast Masses

The three most common kinds of breast masses are fibroadenoma (a benign tumor), cysts, and breast cancer. The clinical characteristics of these masses are listed below. However, any breast mass should be carefully evaluated and usually warrants further investigation by ultrasound, aspiration, mammography, or biopsy. The masses depicted below are rather large, for purposes of illustration. Ideally, breast cancer should be identified early, when the mass is small. Fibrocystic changes, not illustrated, are also commonly palpable as nodular, ropelike densities in women ages 25-50. They may be tender or painful. They are considered benign and are not considered a risk factor for breast cancer.




Usual Age


Shape Consistency Delimitation Well delineated

15-25, usually puberty and young adulthood, 30-50, regress after menopause except with estrogen therapy



Retraction Signs but up to age 55

Usually single, may be multiple

Round, disclike, or lobular May be soft, usually firm

Very mobile

Usually nontender Absent

Single or multiple Round

Soft to firm, usually elastic Well delineated


Often tender Absent

30-90, most common over 50 in middle-aged and elderly women

Usually single, although may coexist with other nodules

Irregular or stellate

Firm or hard

Not clearly delineated from surrounding tissues

May be fixed to skin or underlying tissues

Usually nontender May be present

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