Painful Breast Lump – Symptoms, Causes and More

A Painful Breast Lump is an alarming sign to notice since it is one of the most common symptoms of Breast Cancer. However, a lump does not always indicate cancer, very often these lumps in the breast are benign and treatable. It is very important to look for other serious symptoms that may be associated with the lump.

Location of pain

In most cases the pain is felt in and around the area of the lump, very often radiating into the axilla or other surrounding structures.

Duration of pain

The pain is typically associated with the lump and goes away as soon as the lump is treated.


A lump can be smooth, round, firm, painful, tender, solid or any other type depending upon the cause. Respectively associated symptoms of a Painful Breast Lump depend upon its type and cause. Given below are some common symptoms that are experienced:

  • Tenderness and Pain due to Swelling.
  • Smooth or fluctuant to touch.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Nausea.
  • Redness of skin or rash.
  • The size and location of the lump may change with the menstrual cycle.
  • If the lump is an Abscess, it can be accompanied by fever.


A Breast Lump can be caused by a number of different conditions. Each one of them is given under:

  • Fibrocystic change is a common breast condition in which the tissues undergo fibrosis and adenosis throughout the menstrual period. It is quite normal and is experienced by almost every woman at some point in her life. The lump is thicker and tender to touch and usually form just before the menstrual period.
  • Breast cysts are painful breast lumps that form in women in their reproductive age due to fluctuating hormones. These are usually formed due to an injury, blockage of a milk duct, or merely hormonal changes.
  • An Abscess in the breast tissue can also be felt like a painful lump. This condition usually develops as a result of untreated Mastitis.
  • An injury to the breast can also lead to fat necrosis that results in the development of lipoma over a course of months to years. This is a benign painless breast lump that doesn’t require any treatment.
  • An irregular, immobile, and hard lump is usually associated with Breast Cancer. These lumps are mostly painless and can occur anywhere in the breast tissue.

Breast lumps and Cancer

Breast lumps are the most common abnormal findings especially in women of reproductive age. However, a breast lump is not always associated with cancer. The sudden formation of new lumps that are painless can indicate cancer. It is very important to look for changes taking place in the breast and get an expert opinion on the condition as soon as possible.

Risk factors

  • Women on hormonal replacement therapy.
  • Females who do not breastfeed.
  • Smokers.
  • Chronic use of alcohol.
  • Family history of breast cancer.


A clinical examination done by your gynecologist followed by an ultrasound or mammography may help formulate a proper diagnosis. In case of an abnormal finding, your doctor might also send a sample for biopsy to rule out any cancerous growth.


  • Over the counter painkillers for pain relief.
  • Symptomatic treatment for associated symptoms.
  • Treatment of the underlying cause.

When to consult a doctor?

If you notice the formation of a new lump in your breast, nipple discharge, rashes, or cracks around the nipple, fever, and sudden weight loss you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.


Does a Breast lump always indicate Cancer?

No, breast lumps can develop due to a number of causes, most of them being benign and treatable. However, a breast lump shouldn’t be ignored and should be immediately consulted with a doctor.

I develop breast lumps just before menstruation every month, what can be the cause?

Fibrocystic breast change is the possible cause of breast lumps that develop in response to hormonal fluctuations that take place throughout the menstrual cycle.

What is the cause of painful breast lumps associated with breastfeeding?

The blockage of milk ducts in the breast can lead to milk stasis, which provides the breeding ground for bacteria and thus infection. This can lead to the formation of cysts in the breast which feels like tender lumps upon touching.