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Approach to Breast Lumps

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Breast disease in primary Care

Up to 16 percent of women ages 40 to 69 seek care for breast complaints; 40 percent of these, for a breast lump or lumpiness. Breast lumps are serious because of the threat of breast cancer, especially in women over age 40. Thus early resolution of complaints of breast disease assumes considerable significance. The vast majority of breast lumps and breast complaints however, are caused by benign breast disease.

Breast lumps can present as palpable lesions found by the patient or the clinician, or as non-palpable lesions first detected on screening mammography. The evaluation of palpable and non-palpable lesions differs. The initial step in the assessment of breast lumps is the history and physical examination. The majority of women will need further testing; the most useful tests are mammography, ultrasound, fine needle aspiration, and core needle biopsy.


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