Lump on left breast: Types, diagnosis, and other symptoms

Doctors diagnose breast cancers more often in the left breast than the right. That said, around 80 percent of breast lumps turn out to be noncancerous.

A breast lump may appear near the surface of the skin, deeper inside the breast tissue, or closer to the armpit area.

People should see their doctor for any changes or lumps they find in their breast.

This article looks at what breast lumps might mean and the different types that can occur. We also discuss how to check for lumps and when to see a doctor.

What to do if you find a lump in your left breast

If someone finds a lump in their left breast, they should remain calm. The first step is to work out the characteristics of the lump and look for any other breast changes.

Breast tissue is naturally lumpy, and its textures change with hormones and aging processes. Compare the size, appearance, and texture of both breasts. Evenly dispersed lumps in both breasts usually indicate normal, healthy breast tissue.

Lumps that differ from the surrounding breast tissue may suggest a tumor, which could be cancerous or noncancerous, or another breast condition.

The signs of breast cancer are different for different women. The most common signs are changes in the look or feel of the breast or nipple and nipple discharge.

Look out for the following warning signs of breast cancer:

  • a lump that has a different appearance or texture compared with the rest of the breast
  • a lump that is hard or painful
  • dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast
  • swelling, warmth, redness, or dark patches on the breast

The sections below discuss several types of breast lump and how to identify them.

Breast cancer is a collection of abnormal cells that develop in the tissue, ducts, or lobules of the breast. Breast cancer cells divide and multiply rapidly to form tumors that starve the surrounding tissue.

Breast cancer tumors are usually hard, irregular in shape, and painless.

Early diagnosis of breast cancer is vitally important. Some people can develop breast cancer symptoms before they notice a lump in the breast.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • swelling or pain in the breast
  • redness, irritation, or rash on the breast skin
  • dimpling of the breast skin
  • changes in the appearance of the breast or nipple
  • nipple discharge


To assess a breast lump, a healthcare professional will review a person’s medical history and perform a physical examination of the breast. They may then use imaging tests to see if the lump is benign or cancerous.

Such tests may include the following:

  • mammograms, which involve taking X-ray photos of the breast tissue
  • ultrasound scans, which doctors use to investigate abnormal findings from physical exams or mammograms
  • MRI scans, which create detailed images of the breast to investigate abnormal findings from physical exams or mammograms

People who have a very high risk of developing breast cancer can have screening MRI scans.

If a doctor is still unsure about the nature of a breast lump after performing imaging tests, they may recommend a biopsy to determine if the lump is benign or cancerous.

When to see a doctor

While most breast lumps are benign, people should have a healthcare professional check any new or unusual breast lumps.

It is especially important for people to seek medical attention if they have a breast lump and any of the following warning symptoms of breast cancer:

  • a hard lump inside the breast, near the collarbone, or under the arm
  • swelling, redness, or rash on the breast skin
  • dimpling or puckering of the breast skin
  • changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • changes in the shape of the nipple
  • nipple turning inward, or retraction
  • unusual nipple discharge
  • a new lump that does not go away after one full menstrual cycle
  • unintentional weight loss


Most breast lumps are benign. If a person finds a lump in either breast or both, they should try to stay calm and schedule an appointment so that a doctor can look at it.

In the United States, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, apart from skin cancers. The average risk of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime is around 12 percent.

Regular breast screening, such as self-breast examinations and mammograms, play a vital role in the early detection of breast cancer.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation recommend performing breast self-exams once every month. Learn how to perform a breast self-exam here.

The ACS state that women aged 45–54 years should have annual mammograms.

All breasts are different, so what might be normal for one person may not be for another. People should try to become familiar with their breasts, so that they can inform their doctor of any changes.

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