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Topic: What are the odds of 6 lumps being benign?

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried —

Meet others worried about developing breast cancer for the first time. PLEASE DO NOT POST PICTURES. You are encouraged to seek advice from a medical professional in the event of any concerns.

Posted on: May 11, 2011 08:16PM

kennessee wrote:

I am 27 years old. I had an ultrasound yesterday to get a look at all the lumps I have. I have 3 lumps in each breast.  Last year I had 3 fibroadenomas excisionally removed.  I am hoping that you ladies will be able to help me relieve my anxiety.  

What are the chances that all 6 lumps will be benign fibroadenomas?  Why do I keep getting so many fibroadenomas?!  I feel like I have a bomb waiting to explode attached to my chest!  I am so tired ( emotionally and mentally ) of going in every 6 months, they give an ultrasound, say it's looks benign and don't even suggest a biopsy.   Is this what I have to look forward to for many more years?  

I guess I don't really know what I'm asking with this post...  just some reassuring and encouraging words.  Is there anyone else on this board who has dealt with numerous lumps that all turned out benign??   

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Posts 1 - 20 (20 total)

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May 11, 2011 08:43PM bdavis wrote:

Some people are just lumpy... you for sure could have 6 benign lumps... Take it one day at a time... but I would get a biopsy regardless... maybe get a core needle biopsy instead of an excisional... Can't keep getting excisional biopsies or you won't have anything left.. and if they are just fibroids, you wouldn't want to remove half your breast, right?

Betsy... 1.9cm tumor, micromet in SN, ER/PR+ 98% .. Had my BMX and Reconstruction in NOLA Dx 11/12/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 11, 2011 08:55PM kennessee wrote:

Yes, I definitely do not want anymore excisionals done.  The hard part for me is to even get them to agree to do a biopsy.  They use my age as a "statistic" and say it's nothing to worry about, etc. I just don't like knowing I have these in my breast without knowing 100% that they are benign.  I have two children to worry about and I don't want to be neglectful of my health.  If it is something, I'd want to find out early instead of waiting.  I am pretty confident that my breasts are just lumpy but I always have that nagging feeling.  There is a family history of BC as well as other cancers on the maternal side.  

Thank you for your reply.  I'm very grateful for this board and the information I gather from it.  I think my family is tired of hearing me talk about my breasts every 6 months.   

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May 11, 2011 09:01PM bdavis wrote:

I agree with you... and understand you wanting to know.. If you want the biopsies, you should get the biopsies... I would get them..And cancer can afflict women of your age... it may not be common, but t happens.. I work at a school and the 23 year old sibling of girls at the school has breast cancer... you are your best advocate... follow your gut.

Betsy... 1.9cm tumor, micromet in SN, ER/PR+ 98% .. Had my BMX and Reconstruction in NOLA Dx 11/12/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 11, 2011 09:08PM CoolBreeze wrote:

My breasts were very cystic.  I had lumps all my life.  I mostly ignored them - it never occured to me that I could get cancer.  In fact, when the lump that was cancer  appeared, I spent three months thinking it was a cyst, although it was very different, and my  breast was dimpling.  Had I paid more attention  ...  well, who knows?

I'm glad you are checking it out.  I had lumps my entire life, many in each breast, but didn't get diagnosed with cancer until 51.  So, yes, all of them could be benign.  But, I would definitely keep up with your ultrasounds and keep your eyes on it.  You could live your whole live without ever getting cancer but you also may get it 20 years from now.  I wouldn't look at it like a bomb is waiting to go off, I would look at it like you have the kind of breasts that will give you an early warning system. :)

Ann's cancer blog: www.butdoctorihatepink.com .....multicentric/multifocal IDC/ILC+DCIS/LCIS/ADH Official dx? "Your breast was a mess." ~UniMastectomy/Chemo/Herceptin/Tamoxifen/Recon Almost Done! Oh wait. mets to liver 5/21/11 Now Stage IV Dx 8/17/2009, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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May 11, 2011 09:45PM , edited May 11, 2011 09:46PM by Beesie

I'd second what Coolbreeze said.  I had lumps all my life too - I had my first fibroadenoma at the age of 16.  I had another at around age 20.  I had lumps that turned out to be fatty deposits.  And I had more cysts that I can remember.  All of my lumps were benign and harmless.  I was eventually diagnosed with breast cancer but not until I was 49 and not in the same breast where I had my fibroadenomas or many of my cysts. My cancer was detected as calcifications; there was never a lump. I don't believe that my breast cancer was related in any way to the lumps that I had for all those years. My mother was diagnosed with BC too - and she never had lumps.

Because of my lumpy breasts, whenever I had an ultrasound or mammo that showed a lump or if I felt new lump that had developed, I'd head straight to a breast surgeon.  It was because I had access to a breast surgeon who insisted that I be carefully checked that my breast cancer was detected when it was still very early stage.  So the way I look at it, my lumpy breasts may have saved my life and certainly they helped me avoid treatments like chemo, which would have been necessary if my cancer had been detected at a later stage.

There are some of us who unfortunately have severely fibrocystic breasts and get lots of lumps. I'm one of those.  And while lots of women get fibroadenomas, about 10% - 15% of women with fibroadenomas have multiple fibroadenomas. You are one of those.  You need to continue to get regular screening to ensure that your lumps are just fibroadenomas but the good news is that fibroadenomas often can be very clearly identified just from how they look on an ultrasound. If I were in your shoes, I would be sure to see a breast surgeon, and I would ask if any of the lumps looked in any way suspicious - in other words, might any of them not be fibroadenomas?  If the answer was yes, then I'd request a biopsy on those.  But if the answer was no, then I'd be happy to not have to have a biopsy. That's how I would handle it; you have to do whatever makes you the most comfortable.   

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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May 12, 2011 06:26AM kehjj04 wrote:

i have VERY fibrocystic lumpy breasts and that has always been protocol for me.  I see my dr, get an ultrasound (and once i had a mammo because they couldent find anything on the US) then i take all of my stuff to the BS and she reads everything, gives me a good exam (commenting on how lumpy my breasts are) and tells me they are benign cysts.  I have to let it go there.  I cant insist on a biopsy everytime i feel a lump.  I put my faith in the Lord (and the WONDERFUL breast surgeon that i have) that they are in fact benign.  I will be praying for you!  (and im in the waiting game too.  Ill have an ultrasound on a tender area in my breast in about 3 weeks.  the waiting is the worst)

Blessed to have all B9 results in the past. Praying for all B9 findings in the future.
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May 12, 2011 06:29AM bdavis wrote:

BTW... they can drain cysts and biopsy the fluid... it helps with the pain that cysts can cause and is a simply in office procedure... If they are fibroids, for me, I'd rather have them taken out or at least biopsied (excisional or core)... everyone is different, but I feel if it is going to make me lose sleep, then take them out.

Betsy... 1.9cm tumor, micromet in SN, ER/PR+ 98% .. Had my BMX and Reconstruction in NOLA Dx 11/12/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 12, 2011 08:23AM mdoak wrote:

I have dozens of fibroadenomas, started getting them in my late teens, and I'm now 41. I had nine of them removed at one point because they found ADH when they biopsied one. I'm now on high-risk surveillance, but not because of the fibroadenomas. The fibroadenomas all look the same on ultrasound, oval, wider rather than tall, smooth edges. Whenever one starts looking funky the radiologist biopsies it. Otherwise, they are left alone.

 It can make self-exams a challenge. I recently felt a funny lump, went to the breast surgeon who felt it as well, but when she ultrasounded it, it was again a fibroadenoma, just very deep and flatter since it was up against my chest wall. Do a self-exam every month, or twice a month even until you get to know all your lumps and bumps, and then if anything changes, go right to the doc. Otherwise, if they are identified as fibroadenomas on ultrasound, you really don't need to worry. Easier said than done, eh?

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May 12, 2011 09:54AM kennessee wrote:

Thank you all for your replies.  It really helps me be able to breathe!

I just looked at my ultrasound reports from my old surgeon from Feb 2011.  I figured I should take in my old paperwork with info for my new surgeon to compare to this new ultrasound.  Could ya'll help me understand some of the terminology in this report from February?

" U/S of the left breast demonstrates a small smooth walled nodule at 3 oclock beneath the areola measuring 0.80x0.59x0.94cm. There is a suggestion of lobular solid breast tissue at 3 oclock measuring 1.28x0.64 cm and not well demarcated on saggital imaging.

U/S of the right breast demonstrates mild subareolar ductal ectasia. No other significan lesions are seen"

What does "not well demarcated" and "ductal ecstasia" mean? 

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May 12, 2011 10:21AM Aug242007 wrote:

I was lumpy since my teens also,  If you have dense breasts, it means that you not only will need to have MRIs (mammograms and ultrasounds don't work) but you will need to have a biopsy.  I had 8 areas that showed up on the MRI but only one was cancer.  This area could be seen for years on my mammogram and had been ignored.  If you do not do the biopsy, you do not know if it is cancer or not.

Oncotype 11, Melissa, Lumpectomy 9/2007, Proph. Bilateral Mast 7/2008 Dx 8/24/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 12, 2011 10:35AM Beesie wrote:

Aug242007, did you have multiple fibroadenomas?  That is a very specific condition, and somewhat different than simply having lumpy breasts. Fibroadenomas often can be very clearly identified on an ultrasound. Kennessee had 3 of her fibroadenomas removed and verified to be fibroadenomas.  Now her docs have viewed the others on an ultrasound and are confident that a biopsy isn't necessary. This isn't unusual for women who have multiple fibroadenomas, as mdoak explained about her own situation. As she put it so well, "The fibroadenomas all look the same on ultrasound, oval, wider rather than tall, smooth edges. Whenever one starts looking funky the radiologist biopsies it. Otherwise, they are left alone."  This is the standard protocol for those who have multiple fibroadenomas - and yes, it is somewhat different than what is done for those who have unidentified lumps.  So it sounds as though your situation may have been different from Kennessee's situation. For you, having the biopsies was necessary.  They were necessary for me too - except when my 2nd fibroadenoma showed up because it was so obviously a fibroadenoma. For Kennessee, having a biopsy of each lump may not be necessary. What's most important is that she talk to her new breast surgeon about this. That's the opinion that matters most.   
Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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May 12, 2011 05:01PM kennessee wrote:

I went to the surgeon today.  He didn't want to biopsy anything.  I told him that I was comfortable with most of my lumps because at this point I know what feels like a fibroadenoma.  There were 2 that I did not feel comfortable just leaving though.  And he agreed to biopsy those-- even though I had to fight for it which was very discouraging.  I usually try to avoid confrontations and arguments but I know my body and these 2 specific lumps do not feel like the rest.  1 lump under my areola region has been there since last year and it feels much bigger.  The other lump feels very ridgy/gritty.. like a fossil.  The person who did the ultrasound didn't even know what it was.. whether it was a lump or tissue.  I don't feel comfortable just leaving that one alone.  My husband is deployed right now and was a bit angry that I have to do this alone and that I am brushed off a lot.

 I came home and called my best friend  and she was just clearly uninterested in hearing anything.  It was pretty hurtful as she has no idea why I am upset that I have to fight for biopsies and she had no interest in even listening to me vent... just wanted to talk about her recent purchases.  The only support system I have is my husband, who I can't even lean on right now, and this board.  Thank you all so much for allowing us confused and worried women here to ask questions and vent.  I am very grateful and your replies have really calmed most of my worries.  

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May 12, 2011 06:13PM bdavis wrote:

Some people don't know how to comfort... try not to be hurt.

Betsy... 1.9cm tumor, micromet in SN, ER/PR+ 98% .. Had my BMX and Reconstruction in NOLA Dx 11/12/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 12, 2011 10:06PM CoolBreeze wrote:

While I'm certain the lumps you are experiencing are benign, I applaud you for insisting they be biopsied.  

It's very rare, but I have heard of women who were told their lumps were nothing and who turned out to have something.   Cancer is very easy to see on a sonogram - I could have diagnosed my own.  It looked nothng like my cysts.  But you are good to get it checked out.  I'm sorry your friend wasn't more supportive.  I think a lot of women don't understand how stressful this worry is.

We know though.  :-)   

Ann's cancer blog: www.butdoctorihatepink.com .....multicentric/multifocal IDC/ILC+DCIS/LCIS/ADH Official dx? "Your breast was a mess." ~UniMastectomy/Chemo/Herceptin/Tamoxifen/Recon Almost Done! Oh wait. mets to liver 5/21/11 Now Stage IV Dx 8/17/2009, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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May 12, 2011 10:09PM carol1949 wrote:

Check into Lugol's iodine.  It has been shown to erradicate fibrocystic breasts.  I had over 30 cysts in one breat at one time.  The danger is that they can block the view of a potential serious lump on a mammogram.  Do some research. 

Dx 4/4/2008, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, ER+, HER2-
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May 15, 2011 08:46AM Aug242007 wrote:

I still would have them biopsied.  You do not know until they are biopsied.  My cancer 2.2 cm IDC( which could be felt but did not show up with a mammogram) was there at least 10 years before they finally biopsied.  Just my thoughts.  I wish that someone could have explained this to me instead of just saying "oh, 80% of lumps are not cancer".  What if its the 20%?  Again just my thoughts.  Also, get a second opinion.

Oncotype 11, Melissa, Lumpectomy 9/2007, Proph. Bilateral Mast 7/2008 Dx 8/24/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 15, 2011 09:40AM kennessee wrote:

Thank you, Aug!  I wish it was easy to get them all biopsied.  I always have that little nagging voice in the back of my mind when I leave the lumps without being biopsied.  Because, yes it's rare for a young woman to get bc, but what if one of the lumps did fall in the 20%. I am seen every 6 months so I would hope that if any lumps change or grow they would biopsy ( however one of my lumps that has been in my right breast for a year has grown and they still didn't want to biopsy.. )

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May 15, 2011 10:13AM Mountains1day wrote:

kennessee,

A procedure called an Ultrasound Guided Core Needle Biopsy could be useful to identify if the lumps are benign or cancer.  It is basically a simple procedure that even a radiologist could perform.  The areas of concern are identified during a ultrasound, numbed by small needle injection and another needle quickly snaps out a pin point piece of that area.  The recovery is somewhat painless, like getting a shot, covered with a band aid.  The most important part is the piece/s are sent to a lab and the results can definitively describe a benign or malignancy.  No radiation exposure from a Mammogram, no big chunks removed from the breasts and a huge piece of mind.

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May 15, 2011 10:39AM , edited May 15, 2011 10:46AM by Beesie

20% of lumps are not cancer.  The percentage of lumps that are cancer is actually much lower.  

The actual stat, which is almost always misquoted here, is that 20% of biopsies result in a diagnosis of breast cancer.  What we often forget is that many abnormalities that are seen on a mammo or ultrasound, including some types of calcifications and many lumps - particularly cysts and fibroadenomas - are not biopsied.  What we also forget is that most of us who hang out here were the ones who landed on the short side of the odds - we were diagnosed with breast cancer.  So it's natural that we will reflect our experience in what we say and in our recommendations.  The vast majority of women who had lumps or other abnormalities and who had benign biopsies, or who never even required a biopsy, don't hang out here.  That's important to remember.

This chart explains what the diagnostic process and shows the actual percent of women who progress through each stage: 

 http://www.imaginis.com/breast-health/overview-of-breast-cancer-diagnosis-decision-process

Of those who have a call-back after a routine mammogram, only 5% are diagnosed with breast cancer.  75% don't even require a biopsy.  This includes many women with cysts and fibroadenomas. 

kennessee, this isn't to say that you shouldn't have the biopsy done on the two lumps that your surgeon has agreed to biopsy.  If those lumps feel different to you, then you should definitely get the biopsy.  And if you are uncomfortable not checking any of the other lumps, then you should press for a biopsy of those too. One option might be a fine needle biopsy, which is the simplest and least invasive procedure and probably would be all that's necessary to confirm that your lumps are fibroadenomas.  What's most important is that you have to be comfortable and confident about how your difficult situation - having multiple fibroadenomas - is being monitored.  You have to be your own advocate.  And it sounds like that is exactly what you are doing.   

Good luck with the biopsies!

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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May 17, 2011 05:17PM denise1964 wrote:

Ladies,

I am new to this website and have received two replies (thank you) under biopsy which I spelled incorrectly. I am 47 years old. Two years ago is when I found out I have very dense breast. Four different biopsy this past Friday. Tomorrow is the day of truth. I have cluster of califications. One they are concerned about yet was told they have seen the same from others and came back B9. I pray this for me and others. I am to deploy to Iraq with reserves. I want to deploy for several reasons. There are moments not around my husband where a few tears will fall and then other times I feel God has healed me. Thanks for listening. Denise