This Mother’s Day, it’s time to focus on YOU and your health, mama. That includes your breast health, no matter your age!
When was the last time you got your breasts checked for lumps? Breast lumps can occur in women of all ages, even if you’re in your 20s and in the pink of health. But if you do find lumps, what’s serious and what’s not? Clinical Director and mama-of-three Dr Tan Yia Swam of Thomson Breast Centre shares her expertise on all things breast health and addresses the different types of breast lumps, from common non-cancerous variations to those caused by breastfeeding complications.
Breast lumps during pregnancy are very common. An expectant mothers may experience many normal physiological changes ― an increase in breast size, more obvious sweat glands around the nipples, a darkening of the areola ― all of which will prepare her body for breastfeeding.
Common non-cancerous variations to breasts include hormonal changes (fibrocystic changes), fibroadenomas, cysts, lipomas, accessory (or extra) breast tissue. Pregnancy-related breast cancers make up about 3% of all breast cancers, so the risk is relatively low.
Lumps Caused by Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding in the early days is usually filled with pain from latching and engorgement. What about those hard lumps we sometimes find? These red, tender-to-the-touch lumps are usually caused by blocked milk ducts and hormonal changes within the body. Luckily, they should be resolved naturally within the next 1-2 feeds.
However, if your blocked ducts do not clear, your breasts may become inflamed and sore. You may also start to feel unwell, which is a typical symptom of mastitis. If left untreated, it may progress to a milk collection (also known as galactocele) and when infected, it can become an abscess – a build-up of pus in the breast which usually makes the skin look red and swollen, and feels warm and tender to touch.
If the lump is persistent, it may not be a blocked duct. You’re recommended to see a doctor for a physical examination, where you should be able to do an immediate ultrasound check to confirm if the lump you feel is ‘real’, or just prominent breast tissue.
When to See a Doctor
If you detect a breast lump during your pregnancy or postpartum, you should see a doctor to get their opinion, keeping in mind that most times it will turn out to be nothing serious! Dr Tan advises getting a thorough consultation, physical examination and ultrasound. A biopsy will only be performed if necessary. According to Dr Tan, ultrasounds are safe and useful in detecting lumps and to check if it’s solid or cystic as they’re the same technology used to monitor the baby during pregnancy.
As a mama of three herself, Dr Tan can empathise fully with patients when they approach her for consultations. The pregnancy and postpartum period can be stressful enough for most women, so any symptoms or discomfort that don’t go away may result in more worrying. At Thomson Breast Centre, Dr Tan and her team are dedicated to providing personalised care for all kinds of breast-related conditions from diagnosis to treatment.
Housed within Thomson Medical, the clinic also leverages on the hospital’s expertise in women’s health with a strong referral support to imaging services and an in-house team of experienced lactation consultants, providing patients with the convenience of a one-stop centre.
Could you have conditions worth looking into, mama? Head to Thomson Breast Centre for your one-stop screening, specialist diagnosis, surgery and treatment needs.
- First Consult + Mammogram $294.25/pax* (For women aged 40 and above)
- First Consult + Breast Ultrasound $235.40/pax* (For women aged below 40)
- First Consult + Mammogram + Ultrasound $374.50/pax* (For women aged 40 and above)
*At least 2 pax. Prices indicated includes 7% GST. For enquiry on individual rates or other procedures charges, please contact the clinic directly.
Monday to Friday: 8:30am–5.00pm
Closed on Sundays
Thomson Breast Centre, Thomson Medical Centre, 339 Thomson Road #03-03, Singapore 307677, Tel: (+65) 6252 5535, [email protected], www.thomsonmedical.com/service/thomson-breast-centre