Nafisa Tejpar, MD, FACS
Breast Disease & Breast Cancer
Most likely you are looking at this page because you, or someone you love, has either felt a lump in her (or his) breast, has been told of an abnormality on a mammogram, or had a nipple discharge or dimpling (pulling inward of skin) of the breast. Some male breast lumps are benign, some are cancerous.
When women (and sometimes men) or those who love them, discover abnormalities in the breast, the first thought is that they have breast cancer. One of the common feeling responses to such news is numbness and then fear. Then they are often told they need to go to a breast surgeon.
Abnormalities in the breast may be cancer, or they may be benign disease. For example, some lumps are simple cysts. Some women have fibrocystic disease. Others are cancer. Some breast discharge is caused by a benign intraductal papilloma or some other benign disease. But, some discharge is caused by cancer. A papilloma may have atypical features which may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer in the future.
Usually the only way to know for sure is through a biopsy.
The main thing is this: Do NOT put it off!
Because the thought of cancer is so scary, women will sometimes put off going to the doctor, or not follow-up with a breast surgeon or with tests when recommended. Some decide on their own to wait and see. Some can’t bear the thought of hearing that they have cancer and will simply try to avoid it. Failure to follow-through, to go to a specialist, to have a biopsy, can lead to a situation that becomes the most life-threatening of all – allowing cancer to progress without doing anything. The treatments of today are more effective and often, better tolerated, than those of the past.
Biopsies are what tell us for sure whether something is benign or whether it is cancer.
What will happen in a biopsy?
In the meantime, you may find some of the resources I have listed to be helpful. Breast Disease and Breast Cancer Resource Page. It has links to information on breast disease, breast cancer, help in coping with a diagnosis, ways for your spouse or significant other to support you, and more.