By: Dr. Princess Thomas, Breast Surgical Oncologist, Breast Care Specialists of Carolina
Breasts can be a real mystery sometimes. Is this lump normal? Are they supposed to feel so … strange? Establishing what feels “normal” for you is VERY important. When you know what your breasts feel like when they’re healthy, you’ll be able to notice changes that could signal a mass or benign breast disease.
So, what is a “normal” breast? What should they feel, look, and act like? Dr. Princess Thomas wants to share some wisdom to help you decide if what you discover about your breasts is typical and healthy. I’m also alerting you to possible issues in your breast health—so that you can take the driver’s seat.
What does “normal” feel like?
The biggest challenge when explaining what to look for during a breast self-examination is that each person’s “normal” is different. For example, breasts come with different amounts of dense or fatty tissue, depending upon your breast size, body weight, and genetics.
Dense tissue is firm, and often lumpy and bumpy. People with dense breasts sometimes have a harder time finding abnormal lumps and bumps because much of the breast tissue is textured. Young women with dense breasts, in particular, may struggle to make sense of what’s a normal lump and what isn’t. Fatty breast tissue is much smoother and less textured than dense. Finding abnormalities in fatty tissue is much easier; it’s almost like finding a pea in a bowl of Jell-O.
Perform monthly breast self-exams.
Perform monthly self exams, and remind your female family and friends to do the same! This is essential in developing your personal baseline. If your breasts feel the same from one month to another, and all of your lumps are in the same places and haven’t changed in size, then everything is likely normal. Developing a baseline gives you something to compare against so that you notice changes if and when they occur.
It’s important to understand that your normal can change as well. The texture of your breast can vary throughout your menstrual cycle as your hormones fluctuate. Some women may feel that their breasts are lumpier early in their cycle when their estrogen levels are high. Post-menopausal women may even notice changes in their breast texture at different points in the month, though their changes are often less extreme than premenopausal women.
Many women experience breast tenderness at certain points in their menstrual cycle. If you’re one of them, then plan your monthly self-exam at a time when your breasts are no longer tender. As long as you do your breast check at the exact same time each month, you should be able to familiarize yourself with what’s typical for your breasts. If your exams are scattered throughout the month, you may end up confusing yourself.
Breast self examinations can help you understand your normal so please take advantage of this important tool. What’s “normal” is different for every single woman. If you have questions about what’s healthy for you, you discover a change, or you’re not sure if something is normal, schedule a screening appointment at Breast Care Specialists of Carolina. Dr. Thomas can help you figure out what’s healthy and normal for you so that you can develop your personal baseline.
Dr. Princess Thomas is a well respected and dedicated breast surgeon that is in private practice at Breast Care Specialists of Carolina in Mooresville, NC where she is the founding physician. She offers an individualized and holistic approach to breast care. Dr. Thomas completed a general surgery residency at Mercer University and completed breast fellowship at Yale University. Dr. Thomas implements the latest techniques of oncoplastic surgery to ensure that her patients have the best cosmetic outcome. She is the proud wife of Dr. Rossi Williams and mother of three children: Rossi, Peyton and Royce.