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Breast nodules, or lumps within the breasts, may occur for a number of reasons, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Fluid-filled cysts are a common cause, and they may require treatment ranging from hormone therapy to surgery to no treatment at all. Infection in the milk ducts, known as mastitis, is another possible cause of lumps, and is sometimes complicated by development of an abscess; depending on the severity of the issue, these may require home care, antibiotics, or draining. If cancer is the cause of a breast nodule, patients should discuss treatment options with their doctors, as the best approach may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, or a combination of treatments.
Some of the common types of breast nodules are cysts. These fluid-filled sacs form lumps that can be soft or firm, be painful or not, and can vary in size. In many cases, no treatment is needed if they do not cause a woman any issues, and they may clear on their own. If they are problematic or recur often, taking hormones such as those in birth control pills may alleviate them. In rare, severe cases, such as when a cyst is large and painful, recurs often, or produces bloody fluid, surgical removal may be necessary.
Another of the causes of breast nodules is infection. Mastitis, an infection in the breast ducts, is particularly common in breastfeeding women. The infection will typically require treatment with antibiotics, and can also be helped using home remedies like warm compresses, pain medication, and feeding one's baby frequently to prevent further blockages in the ducts. If an abscess forms, it may be necessary to drain it, either with a needle, small incision, or surgery if it is very deep in the breast.
Sometimes breast nodules are the result of cancer in the breast, and treatment can vary depending on the tumor size, location, and whether or not it has spread beyond the breast. Surgery may be necessary, and can range from a lumpectomy to remove only the tumor to a mastectomy where the entire breast is removed; in cases where the cancer has spread, one or many lymph nodes may also need to be taken out. Radiation therapy, which uses targeted energy beams, and chemotherapy, which uses specific drugs, are also often used to kill the cancer cells. For specific types of tumors, hormone therapy or targeted drugs may also be part of treatment.