Your doctor diagnoses mastitis based on a physical exam, taking into account signs and symptoms of fever, chills and a painful area in the breast. Another clear sign is a wedge-shaped area on the breast that points toward the nipple and is tender to the touch. As part of the exam, your doctor will make sure you don't have a breast abscess — a complication that can occur when mastitis isn't treated promptly.
A rare form of breast cancer — inflammatory breast cancer — also can cause redness and swelling that could initially be confused with mastitis. Your doctor may recommend a diagnostic mammogram, and you may need a biopsy to make sure you don't have breast cancer.
Jul. 18, 2012
- Non-cancerous breast conditions. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003180-pdf.pdf. Accessed June 6, 2012.
- Dixon JM. Lactational mastitis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed June 6, 2012.
- Spencer JP. Management of mastitis in breastfeeding women. American Family Physician. 2008;78:727.
- Cusack L, et al. Lactational mastitis and breast abscess: Diagnosis and management in general practice. Australian Family Physician. 2011;40:976.
- Gabbe SG, et al. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1528/0.html. Accessed June 6, 2012.
- FAQ on mastitis. La Leche League International. http://www.llli.org/FAQ/mastitis.html. Accessed June 6, 2012.