Facts on breast lumps in children

Written by genevieve van wyden
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As your children reach puberty, they may develop one very unsettling characteristic---breast lumps. Breast lumps are normally innocent in nature as they are caused by the influence of the hormones that are now in their bodies. Visit your children's doctor so you can receive a definite diagnosis of what is happening in your child's body.

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Influence of the Menstrual Cycle

Fibrocystic changes take place because of the influence of oestrogen and progesterone. During the normal course of your daughter's menstrual cycle, her breasts swell as her milk glands and ducts grow larger and as her body retains water. After her period ends, her breast swelling will go down and her breasts will return to normal. Cysts will be influenced the same way by your daughter's menstrual cycle. They will grow before and during her period and when her period has ended, the cysts will go down in size. (If she presses on the cyst, it may feel like an eyeball.)

Benign Lumps

Some teen girls develop fibroadenomas, or solid tumours in their breasts. These tumours are made up of structural and glandular tissues, thus the name fibroadenomas. Two characteristics of fibroadenomas are: they are easy to move around upon manipulation and they feel rubbery. The lump will not cause pain. These can develop in girls who are in their late teens or early 20s. While most fibroadenomas are benign, surgeons believe it is a good practice to remove these tumours in order to ensure they are truly benign.

Breast Lumps in Boys

Preadolescent and adolescent boys are not immune to breast lumps. Your son will experience his own surge of hormones that exert an influence on his breast tissue. This condition is not serious, but the boy who has noticeable breasts might develop some real concerns about how it makes him look. This tissue might disappear within two months to two years. You should have your son's paediatrician keep a close eye on this additional breast growth to ensure it is benign and that it remains this way.

Gynaecomastia

The breast tissue your son is developing is called gynaecomastia. This is a firm lump that appears under one nipple or even both of his nipples. They may be tender, especially when they are growing. They may be uneven in size. Gynaecomastia can run in families. It is most common in boys who are bigger teens (taller or heavier or both). Gynaecomastia may develop as a result of obesity.

When to Worry About a Lump

For both male and female adolescents, you should worry about a lump when it is growing, hard, unmovable and causing deformities. If the lump makes its presence known before your child reaches her 10th birthday or if there is an ulceration of the skin or dimpling above the lump, if the lump is more than 1 1/2 inches in size, or if your child's nipples are leaking milk, blood or another fluid, take her to the doctor immediately. If the lump does not go away within two years or if she has other symptoms such as weight loss and night sweats, go to the doctor.

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