Which physical findings suggest breast mass?

Updated: Jul 27, 2020
  • Author: Andrew C Miller, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Perform a thorough breast examination in any patient presenting with a breast complaint and in any older woman presenting with unexplained weight loss, anorexia, or bone pain.

Breast mass

See the list below:

  • Firm mass of variable shape and size

  • Observe whether fixed or mobile

  • Fifty percent of masses found in the upper outer quadrant of the breast

  • May have associated pain with palpation (most are painless)

  • Nipple discharge, inversion, changes, or asymmetry

  • Skin retraction or tethering

  • Axillary lymphadenopathy

  • Skin changes - Inflammatory (ie, peau d'orange) or erythematous scaly lesions of the areola (ie, Paget disease) [13]

  • Pay special attention to associated upper-extremity neurologic motor or sensory abnormalities, as these may herald invasion of the brachial plexus—an indication for emergent radiation therapy

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