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Canadian influencer Sarah Nicole Landry says her breast lump is a cyst: What to know about cysts, tumours & self-exams

The Ontario-based content creator urged fans to face their fears and avoid putting off getting help if they need it.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Sarah Nicole Landry got candid about her experience getting a lump on her breast checked out. (Photo via @thebirdspapaya on Instagram)
Sarah Nicole Landry got candid about her experience getting a lump on her breast checked out. (Photo via @thebirdspapaya on Instagram)

Sarah Nicole Landry is opening up about her experience with a lump on her breast and facing the "big scary things" when it comes to her health.

In a series of Instagram Stories shared on Wednesday, the Canadian influencer explained her situation after getting mammograms. Landry told her fans last week that she found a lump on her breast but that she felt she should've been "more panicked" than she was. On Wednesday after her mammograms, the content creator explained her healthcare team was going to look at her scans and determine whether she needed a biopsy.

"This is where we really hold our breath," she said in a clip, after crossing her fingers. "But also, we're just going to do whatever needs to be done."

Shortly after, Landry followed up with "really good news," updating fans that she was allowed to head home.

"I still have to get results of whatever transpired today but that'll take a few days," she noted. "But they don't have further concerns; I do not need to go for a biopsy today."

Later in her car, she opened up about facing potentially-scary personal health news and how things are looking upwards.

Landry — known as The Birds Papaya — urged fans to address their health issues and not put anything off. (Photos via @thebirdspapaya on Instagram)
Landry — known as The Birds Papaya — urged fans to address their health issues and not put anything off. (Photos via @thebirdspapaya on Instagram)

"I'm obviously very, very, very relieved and also have to await the results still," Landry said. "But, it's looking really positive, so I'm feeling really positive. I realize not everybody has that initial positive experience, too. But I hope regardless, everything we've learned is that we don't ignore and we don't put off and we do the big scary things."

A few hours later, Landry shared an update saying she had already gotten a call about her results, which indicated the lump was a cyst.

"Which surprised me because it's about two inches long, hard and fixed, but that just goes to show you that Google is not a doctor," she penned. "Go get yourself checked if you find a lump. Now, I just have to self monitor mine!"

While Landry is lucky her lump turned out to be a cyst, it doesn't downplay the fact that breast cancer is a serious problem in Canada. It's the second-most common cancer in the country, where the Canadian Cancer Society estimated in 2023 alone, around 29,400 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and roughly 5,400 died from it.

Still, there's hope when it comes to a majority of cases. In Canada, 82 per cent of female breast cancer cases are diagnosed early in their development, at stages one and two. Moreover, government data indicated "the probability of surviving breast cancer at least five years after diagnosis is about 88 per cent in Canada."

So, what exactly do you need to know about breast cancer? Should you start self-examining yourself for cysts, tumours and more? Read on to learn more.

A mammogram — an x-ray of the breast — is used to help health-care professionals detect breast diseases. (Photo via Getty Images)
A mammogram — an x-ray of the breast — is used to help health-care professionals detect breast diseases. (Photo via Getty Images)

What's the difference between a breast cyst and a tumour?

Cysts and tumours in the breast may both feel like similar kinds of lumps, but they're very different to each other. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the breast tissue and they're the most common benign breast lumps for women between ages 35 and 50. They're typically small and harmless, although they may grow, and it's possible to have one or multiple at a time. Generally, they feel like a round, moveable lump that's tender.

On the other hand, a breast tumours are masses that often feel hard and firm, and they usually can't easily be moved. While cysts may feel painful, breast tumours typically remain painless. Some symptoms of a breast tumour include:

  • Breast size or shape changes

  • Irritation or dimpling of the breast's skin

  • Nipple discharge

  • Pain in the breast

  • Redness or flakiness on the nipple or elsewhere on the breast

  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast


Can a breast cyst turn into cancer?

Most breast cysts will go away without any treatment, but sometimes, a health-care professional may offer treatment if it's very large or won't disappear. Breast cysts are also rarely cancerous and do not increase your risk for developing breast cancer, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Houston Methodist also noted that benign breast cysts, which are those that aren't cancerous, cannot become cancerous and turn into tumours.

Unlike cysts, breast tumours are typically hard and unmovable. (Photo via Getty Images)
Unlike cysts, breast tumours are typically hard and unmovable. (Photo via Getty Images)

Are breast self-examinations worth it?

Surprisingly, breast self-examinations are a controversial topic. The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care does not recommend breast self-examinations for women between the ages of 40 to 74 who do not have a high risk of breast cancer. However, your primary health-care provider may disagree.

Dr. Melinda Wu, a general practitioner in oncology at Toronto's Women's College Hospital Breast Centre, previously told Yahoo Canada it's important to "get to know the [breast] tissue in your own body."

"I really promote breast self-awareness at every age, probably starting at 18," she shared in 2021. "You don't have to [perform a breast exam] monthly or in any regimented fashion, but you should start to get to know your own breast tissue so that you can let someone know if it starts to feel different to you."

How do I perform a breast self-examination?

To give yourself a breast exam, Wu suggested doing so while taking a shower with soap and water, or while lying down on your bed.

"I encourage people to use the finger pads of their first three fingers and glide over the tissue so that you cover all of it in some overlapping manner," she shared. "Some people use a 'lawnmowing' type of pattern when you go from the collarbone to the underside of the breast, come back up next to it and go down, [making] vertical strips."

Wu added there isn't a singular correct way to perform a breast self-exam, "as long as you cover the breast tissue in its entirety and you do so in a regular fashion so that you get to know what feels right or normal to you."

Moreover, Wu advised it might be helpful to study your naked reflection so you know what your normal breast shape looks like, along with its contours and skin.

"I encourage people to raise their hands over their heads [to] accentuate anything that might be tethering the skin or the nipple," she said. "If you notice that any part of the skin is pulling in or dimpling, that would be something to bring to the attention of your health-care provider."

To conduct a breast self-exam, a Canadian doctor suggested checking yourself while taking a shower or as you lie down on your bed. (Photo via Getty Images)
To conduct a breast self-exam, a Canadian doctor suggested checking yourself while taking a shower or as you lie down on your bed. (Photo via Getty Images)

When is the best time to do a breast self-examination?

The best time to do a breast self-examination is a week after your period, according to Wu. "That's when the hormone levels are the lowest in your monthly cycle, so you will feel the breast tissue is less engorged," she shared, adding it's best to do one bi-monthly after age 40.

What are some signs of breast cancer?

Lumps might be the most recognizable sign of breast cancer, and Wu noted that women should have breast self-awareness at every age. Moreover, she urged people to never assume a symptom is nothing. On top of lumps, Wu said people should be concerned about skin changes that don't go away.

"If it's crusted, red, if the skin overlying the nipple and areola look different than before," she said, adding that that these are all things that should be brought to the attention of your health-care provider. Additionally, "spontaneous nipple discharge that is clear or bloody" should be brought up as well.

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