Lump on Chest: Causes, Signs, Diagnosis, and Remedies

Lump on chest can be caused by any number of conditions, including infections, inflammation, tumors, or trauma.

Breast examination

When people find that they lump their chest, they can get rather worried, thinking that it might be some form of cancer- specifically cancer of the breast. However, several other things may have caused this lump on the chest. These chest lumps may be an abscess or a cyst. Also, if the lump is diagnosed as a tumor, it may just be a benign or harmless one. The chest is also comprised of the skin and the breasts. It also has under it the cavity of the chest, which is comprised of other different critical body parts and organs such as the esophagus, lungs, heart, sternum, ribs, and the spinal column. On top of all these, the chest also has membranes, veins, arteries, lymph nodes, connective tissues, and muscles.

Possible Causes of Lump on Chest

Below are some of the possible causes of chest lumps:

Cyst

This is a sac that is fluid-filled or it may be filled with other material. Cysts in the breast will usually occur to female individuals aged between 35 to 50 years of age and can become more common as the menopausal stage sets in. Individuals can also have these cysts due to milk ducts that are blocked (galactocele). The cysts in the breast can get tender or bigger before the menstrual period. These cysts will also feel smooth and soft if they develop under the skin. However, these cysts can feel hard if they develop much deeper. Unless they grow rather large, breast cysts are usually painless and benign (non-cancerous). 

Fibroadenoma

Fiboradonemas are breast lumps that are common and benign which affect women. The lump will usually be painless and can occur regardless of the individual‘s age, but is more commonly observed for those who are in their 20s or 30s. The lump can move around once it is touched, and it can also be smooth and firm.

Lipoma

A clump of fatty tissue that forms under the skin is known as a lipoma. These lipomas are commonly painless and can develop slowly. They can get painful if they develop around blood vessels or if they press against a nerve. They can be moved around when pushed, and they can also have that rubbery sensation. Lipomas can develop regardless of age, but they are commonly observed in individuals aged 40 and 60 years. These lumps are mostly benign and are usually harmless. It must be noted that there is a form of cancer that is rare and referred to as liposarcoma, which grows deep in the fatty tissues and is considered a form of deep lipoma.

Fat Necrosis

This type of cyst occurs when fatty tissue of the breast gets damaged due to breast injury or after radiation treatment or lumpectomy. This kind of lump is firm, round, and painless. 

Abscess

Sometimes what people think of as a lump might just be an abscess instead. This is caused by pus buildup which can become inflamed. Some of the symptoms may include fever, fatigue, and soreness. 

Hematoma

This kind of lump is a mass that is blood-filled and caused by a breast injury or a surgical procedure. It will usually resolve on its own.

Sclerosing adenosis

This occurs when the tissue in the lobules of the breast experiences an overgrowth. It can lead to lumps that can appear like calcifications once breast exams are conducted (such as a mammogram). 

Nodular Fasciitis

This condition is caused by a tumor that is benign and can happen on any part of the body including the walls of the chest but in some rare cases, also on the breast itself. The lump can grow quite fast, can feel firm, and may have irregular margins. It can also lead to the affected area feeling tender.

Chest injuries

There are cases when a lump is superficial forms after chest injury. It can produce a significant amount of pain, but the swelling and the said pain can get better once the ice is applied.

Extrapulmonary tuberculosis

Tuberculosis of the bones can lead to the formation of lumps in the sternum, spinal column, ribs, and chest wall. Some of the other symptoms are weight loss, pain, and tenderness.

Cancer of the Breasts

A breast lump can also be an indication of cancer of the breasts. Cancerous lumps are commonly hard and have irregular edges but these cancerous lumps can be round and soft. They can be painful but they can also be painless. Some other symptoms of cancer of the breast are:

  • Lymph nodes that are swollen around the collar bone or under the arm
  • Breast pain or nipple pain
  • A nipple that turns inward
  • Swollen breast even without any presence of lumps
  • Skin that is thickened, flaky, or red 
  • Skin dimpling

Seeking Medical Attention, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Benign lumps are usually movable and soft, while cancerous lumps can be immovable and hard. For individuals who noted the formation of a new lump in the said area, it may be a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly if the lump presents itself with some impaired movement, expansion of the chest, atrophy of the muscles, pain in the chest, and swelling. 

To diagnose what a patient’s chest lump is, the doctor will ask the patient some questions about the lump, along with some possible physical exam. The doctor will then do some imaging tests such as breast ultrasound, mammography, chest MRI, CT Scan, and X-ray of the chest. The healthcare professional may also order that biopsy be done to confirm or rule out cancer.

Treating lumps will depend on what is causing it in the first place. Doctors and patients can either wait and see, take some medications, undergo surgical procedures, or if it is cancer, undergo certain treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, clinical trials, and palliative care.

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