Thank you for contacting the information nurses on Cancer Chat. I was sorry to learn that your mother died of cancer. I can understand why you have questions to ask about your current health concerns.
It is hard for us to say in an email what is or isn¿t worrying and I wouldn¿t want to give you false reassurance. However, there are a number of conditions that are not cancer that can cause lumps in the breast. The area in and around the nipple has a number of ducts and glands that can get enlarged or blocked. In most cases this is harmless and goes away on its own. In a small number of people this can develop into a cyst or abscess. It is not unusual for your breasts to be different in size or in how they feel regardless of your monthly cycle.
Cancer including breast is very rare in someone your age. But it is important for women of all ages to be breast aware and to report any changes in their breasts to their GP. It is always advisable to get a quick breast check done. Your doctor will be able to examine you and advise you further. If they feel this needs further medical assessment, then they may refer you on to a breast specialist at your local breast unit. They may suggest that they might want to examine you again just after your next period, to see if the small lump under your nipple is related to your monthly cycle.
Many people tell us that they are embarrassed to discuss things like this with their GP, but they are used to examining people and will do their best to put you at ease. You could ask to see a male or female GP and you do not have to tell the receptionist why you want an appointment.
I am not sure what cancer(s) has affected your family. Most cancers are not hereditary, this means that they are not linked to a specific gene fault. Only between 5 and 10% of cancers are thought to be caused by an inherited faulty gene. Sometimes there are a number of different types of cancers in a family. Usually these cancers are unrelated and are due to the effects of a combination of risk factors such as age, lifestyle and the environment. There is more information here about genes and inherited cancer risk.
Some very specific gene faults have been identified that significantly increase the risk of certain types of cancer such as breast. These can be passed down from one generation to the next, although even if they are running in a family, not everyone will inherit them. These gene faults only occur in a very few families, but tend to produce a noticeable pattern of cancer in the families who share them, and the cancers are usually diagnosed at a younger age than is usual.
Doctors will usually look at the pattern of cancer in the family to see how strong it is. They look at how many people have been diagnosed with cancer on the same side of the family, the ages they were diagnosed and the types of cancer they had. Generally, a strong family history of cancer is indicated when there are two close relatives on the same side of the family, and who had the same type of cancer or cancers that are known to be caused by inherited faulty genes. The cancers usually develop at a young age.
It may help to discuss your concerns about your family cancer history with your doctor (GP). Family doctors have been given training and guidelines in relation to assessing and advising people with a family history of cancer.
I am sorry that I cannot be more specific but hope that you can make an appointment to see your GP soon. It may help if the area is getting sore to avoid feeling the lump until the GP can check it for you.
With kind regards,