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Breast Lumps in Children

This is a localized swelling, bulge or bump in the breast that feels different from the tissue around it. There are many reasons a lump can develop and most are benign. Breast disorders in children can range from congenital conditions to neonatal infections. Continue reading to find questions answered by Experts.

Types of Breast Lumps in Children

The types of breast lumps found in children include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Abnormalities of Embryogenesis: Additional nipples or breasts may develop if fragments of the milk line persist abnormally.
  • Premature Thelarche: This happens when breast tissue develops in girls before the age of 7.5 years.
  • Asymmetric Breast Bud Development: Sometimes, a girl’s breast will not come in at the same time. The asymmetric tissue presents as a unilateral subareolar mass.
  • Gynecomastia: This is the excessive development of breast tissue in boys. This condition is seen in up to 90% of babies, both male and female. This also happens in 3.9-64.6% of boys going through puberty.
  • Mastitis and Abscess: This is seen most frequently in children around two months of age and those 8-17 years old, and majority being in girls. Neonatal mastitis is rare.
  • Galactocele: This is a cystic collection of breast milk. It is usually presented as a fatty mass.
  • Fibroadenoma: This is a benign mass caused by overgrowth of the connective tissue. It is shown in 91% of all solid masses in girls younger than 19 years. Fibroadenomas are characterized as “rubbery” that easily moves when touched.

Diagnosis

When treating a patient with a breast lump, it is important that the following questions are asked in regard to history:

  • Previous history of cancerous tumors
  • Previous chest irradiation
  • History of trauma
  • History of other breast masses
  • Family history of breast and ovarian cancerous tumors
  • Family history of gene mutations

Your child’s doctor will perform a thorough examination of both breasts and nipples for masses and discharge. The lymphatic basins of the breast will be examined for enlarged lymph nodes. Adolescents who carry gene mutations should begin regular office visits by 20 years of age.

Treatment

When a lump is detected, a follow-up screening is required to determine the cause. A mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy or other testing will be done to rule out cancer. A treatment will be put in place for benign or cancer-related lumps. Some do not require clinical treatment, while others will need to be removed.

Treatment for cancerous lumps typically include one or several protocols:

  • Surgery for mastectomy (removal of breast and lymph nodes) or lumpectomy (removal of lump and lymph nodes).
  • Chemotherapy is often given after surgery to reduce the reoccurrence or before surgery if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Radiation is given after a lumpectomy to reduce the risk of reoccurrence.
  • Hormone therapy is used to prevent the reoccurrence, growth and spread of a tumor that relies on the body’s hormones.

Prevention

Most benign lumps are due to changes in the body. If your child has a history of this and you are concerned, ask your doctor on tips for prevention.

At this time, there are no proven ways to prevent cancerous lumps but you can reduce your risk by doing the following:

  • Know your risk factors.
  • Perform monthly self-examinations.
  • Schedule regular clinical breast exams.
  • Talk to your doctor about genetic counseling if you have a family history.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stay active.
  • Maintain healthy nutrition.
  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.

Though it is most common for women to get breast lumps and cancer, they are also found in children and men. While most times it is not cancerous, sometimes it can be. To be sure, always follow up with your health care provider or pediatrician. For more information on breast lumps, ask Experts on JustAnswer.

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