Finding a breast lump can be alarming. Lumps can form anywhere on the chest, including under the breast at the bra line.
Lumps at the bra line can develop for many of the same reasons they form elsewhere on the breast. A lump can also form due to irritation from an ill-fitting bra or an underwire digging into your chest. Most lumps, including a breast lump at the bra line, are not a sign of breast cancer.
Read on to learn why lumps form at the bra line and when you should get them examined by a doctor.
You probably have a lump at your bra line for the same reasons you might have one anywhere else on your breast. There are many causes for breast lumps and most are not due to cancer. Lumps may be caused by things like:
- fluid under the skin
- extra fat cells
- non-cancerous tumors
Sometimes an injury may lead to a lump. The breast, like any other part of the body, reacts to trauma. For example, a recent surgical procedure or other chest injury can cause a hematoma. A hematoma is a pool of blood just under the skin, which can create a lump.
You’ll probably be able to identify these lumps by appearance and circumstance. But other types of breast lumps can develop at the bra line.
Many types of breast lumps that form on or around the breasts can also occur at the bra line.
Most breast lumps are not cancerous, and many are not harmful. Here are some types of lumps that might develop at the bra line.
A breast abscess is a pocket of pus that forms due to infection. If you have an abscess, you’ll likely have other symptoms, such as:
- warm skin
It’s possible to develop an abscess following an injury to your chest. You’ll need treatment to drain the abscess and clear the infection.
A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac.
A cyst might be accompanied by tenderness and may change with your menstrual cycle. They tend to feel soft and smooth. But when they form deep within breast tissue, they can feel hard.
They don’t always require treatment, but a doctor can drain or remove them if they’re causing discomfort.
Fibroadenomas are a type of noncancerous tumor. They’re painless and feel rubbery, smooth, and moveable. The cause of these tumors isn’t clear. Fibroadenomas that cause pain can be surgically removed.
A lipoma is an overgrowth of fat cells just under the skin. They can grow anywhere, including on the chest. They tend to be soft and movable. Lipomas are usually painless and tend to grow slowly. They don’t need to be treated, but they can be surgically removed.
Cancerous lumps are likely to feel hard and immovable. A
Breast cancer is easier to treat when diagnosed at an early stage. According to the
Costochondritis and Tietze syndrome
Costochondritis and Tietze syndrome are similar conditions that involve inflammation of the costochondral joint. The costochondral joint is the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone, or sternum. Both conditions can cause visible swelling and pain, especially when you move or apply pressure.
- chest strain due to severe coughing
- chest strain from physical activity
- injury to the chest
Both conditions can be treated with rest and medications to manage pain.
Although a lump near the bra line may be harmless, it’s still a good idea to get new lumps examined by a doctor. Some breast lumps, even if they’re benign, may require treatment. Contact a doctor as soon as possible if:
- the lump is painful
- the lump or area around it is red or hot
- you also have a fever
- you have other symptoms such puckering skin, nipple discharge, or inverted nipple
- the lump is hard and immovable when you push with your fingers
- the lump is changing or growing
- you have chest pain
Finding a breast lump can be concerning. Take a deep breath and try to relax. Remember, breasts are naturally lumpy, and most breast lumps are not cancerous.
Here’s what to do next:
- Examine your bra. Check to see if your bra is putting too much pressure under your breast. If you wear underwire bras, try switching to another type. If any bra is causing irritation, you can choose to go braless until you feel better.
- Call a doctor. If you have a primary care doctor or OB-GYN, reach out to make an appointment. Explain that you’ve discovered a breast lump and be sure to mention any other symptoms.
- Find a doctor. If you don’t have a doctor, ask someone you trust for a referral. You can also find doctor directories through local clinics, hospitals, or the health department. If you have health insurance, you can find providers through your insurer. Or, you can visit healthcare.gov to find a community health center in your area. Then reach out to make an appointment.
- Mark your calendar. A monthly breast self-exam can help you get familiar with how your breasts usually feel. This might make it easier to notice changes in the future.
- Take notes. Make a note of when you found the lump, what other symptoms you have, and whether you notice any changes before your examination. List your medical history, as well as any medications you take. It’s also helpful to write down questions, so you’re ready to ask them when you see a doctor.
Breast lumps can occur anywhere on either breast. There’s no significance to a lump being on or under the left breast versus the right breast.
In some cases, a doctor can give you a diagnosis just by examining the lump. This may be true in the case of a lipoma, for example.
In many cases, additional tests are needed to make the diagnosis. Depending on your symptoms and physical examination, these may include:
- other imaging tests such as ultrasounds, MRI scans, CT scans, or X-rays
- blood tests
If your doctor is a general practitioner, they may refer you to a specialist.
A lump under your breast at the bra line may be a simple matter of an ill-fitting bra. But lumps on the chest can develop for many reasons. Most lumps due to breast cancer are found higher on the breast, but they can occur at the bra line as well.
If you have a new breast lump, it’s a good idea to have it examined by a doctor.