ZocdocAnswersHow do an ill-defined lump and breast cyst differ?

Question

How do an ill-defined lump and breast cyst differ?

What is the difference between an ""ill-defined lump"" in the breast, and a breast cyst? I just had a mammogram after which my doctor diagnosed an ill-defined lump that I'll have to get biopsied, but I've always had cystic breasts. Why do I need a biopsy now?

Answer

This is an example of how we as physicians need to do a better job explaining to our patients why we make certain decisions based on test results, and why these may contradict previous statements and decisions made in the past. The best type of physician to see for this problem is an OBGYN or primary care physician such as a family doctor. An ill defined lump is simply a mass for which the origin and type cannot be determined. In other words its like saying there is a lump here, we do not know what it is, it could be anything. So the ill-defined lump could be a breast cyst. However, it seems that a mammogram was done, and something was seen that looked suspicious. This means that even though you had cystic breasts in the past, it isn't safe to just chalk this mass up to a cyst especially if its type cannot be determined by mammogram. I suggest that you schedule another appointment with the physician that ordered the mammogram and biopsy. Have a discussion as to what your doctor is thinking and what the work up will look like after the biopsy. This way there are no surprises as you go forward with this process. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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