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A breast neoplasm is a growth in the breast that is abnormal in nature. Neoplasms are not necessarily malignant but usually diagnostic testing is needed to learn more about the type of growth and to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Patients may consult radiologists, oncologists, and other medical specialists in the process of diagnosing a neoplasm and deciding how they want to treat it, if treatment is required at all.
Breast neoplasms can arise for a wide number of reasons. Cells in the breast can start to multiply out of control, causing a growth to develop, abnormal cells can migrate from elsewhere in the body, and the breasts can become inflamed in response to infection or other stimuli and develop growths as a result. People usually notice the neoplasm when they feel the breast and the texture, shape, or consistency seems unfamiliar. In some cases, the growth may be visible because it is near the skin.
If a growth is identified in the breast or a patient is at risk for growths and a doctor feels that screening is advisable, medical imaging studies can be used to visualize the tissue inside the breast to look for abnormalities so that more information can be gathered. A biopsy can also be performed, with a needle being inserted to pull out a segment of cells from the growth so that they can be analyzed in a lab. A lab technician can determine the type of cell involved and whether the growth is malignant.
In the case of a benign breast neoplasm, the best treatment may be no treatment at all. The patient may be monitored for signs of changes, but otherwise the growth can be left in situ. If it becomes painful or so large that it interferes with the patient's quality of life, a surgical procedure can be performed to remove the growth. Surgery on a breast neoplasm is not recommended unless it is necessary as the trauma to the breast may encourage the development of scarring, new growths, and other problems.
Malignancies must usually be removed. Surgery to resect the breast neoplasm is available and growths can also be attacked with chemotherapy and radiation. In the case of malignancies, staging is important to determine if the growth is spread, and follow up visits will be needed to confirm that the growth has been totally removed. The patient may need to go on long term medical treatment to suppress the growth of malignant cells and ensure that the malignancy is fully eliminated.