Breast cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer among women, and the only key to lower the risks is early detection. Regular breast self-examinations help in locating malignant growths. Thus, it is essential to have the knowledge and know what changes to look for. Spotting any of these signs as early as possible offers one a better chance of successful treatment.
The most common symptoms of breast cancer are found in the breasts and underarms areas. However, do keep in mind that lumps in the breast are not always cancerous, they may be benign which means it will not spread to other parts of the body. Still, if you have any reasons to be worried, it is essential that you see your doctor right away as cancer is not always caught by screening tests. You might have a normal mammogram and still feel a lump which may be a cause for worry.
1. Breast Examination
A physical examination of the breast is a common way to detect breast cancer. The purpose is to look for any lump or mass in the breast that are usually hard and painless. Keep in mind that not all lumps equate to having cancer, as some breast conditions like cysts are also lumps. Nevertheless, it is important to have your doctor check if you feel a lump around your breast area.
Lumps that are hard and feel irregular in size is more likely to be cancerous. Other notable signs include enlargement of one breast, visible veins on the breast and any change in the texture of the skin.
The skin of the breast may turn red or change in texture. Dimpling of any part of the skin over the breast, or the skin turning dry and rough (like an orange skin) is often linked to inflammatory breast cancer. Breast warmth and itching may also be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.
As with all types of cancer, the sooner it is diagnosed the better. Depending on the results, the doctor might do a mammogram and biopsy.
2. Nipple Changes
Breast cancer change the way your nipple looks. The nipple might turn inward, or the skin becomes red, scaly or thickened skin. All these are some of the symptoms of breast cancer and you need to consult the doctor right away.
Another notable sign is if there is discharge from the nipple. However, do not be too quick to jump to conclusions as these signs may also be due to infection, injury or a benign tumor that is not cancerous. Do consult your doctor and go for a scan.
3. Pain In The Breast
Although most cancers do not lead to any pain in the breast, in some cases they do. It is common for women to feel pain or discomfort during the menstrual cycle. The pain usually comes before menstruation, and goes away once menstruation begins.
If you are experiencing any other pain around the breast area that is not related to your menstrual cycle, you should get it checked as soon as possible.
4. Lymph Nodes
Feel your lymph nodes under your arm or in your neck. Lymph nodes that feel hard and enlarged may be the result of breast, lung or neck cancer that has spread. Do check with the doctor to do a biopsy test.
Swellings or lumps around your armpits or collarbone may be due to breast cancer. This swelling may occur before any lump is detected in the breast. Be sure to see a doctor if you have any such symptoms so that they can be treated early and appropriately.
5. Unexplained and Irregular symptoms
Women should also look for other signs and symptoms apart from the breast, nipples, and lymph nodes. For example, postmenopausal bleeding can be a warning sign and should be investigated. Unexplained weight gain or loss may also be the first sign of cancer.
Know Your Breast
Before examining your breast or going for a physical examination, women should not panic if they feel a lump. There are some uneven areas in the breasts all the time. The good news is that only 20% of women who had a suspicious lump turned out to have breast cancer. While detecting a lump in the breast is not the most accurate way to determine breast cancer, it is nevertheless the easiest way to detect it early.
Make a family health tree and get to know your body better so that you can take precautions with the help of regularly screening tests. Regular exercise can lower blood estrogen which can cut down the risk of breast cancer. Go for regular breast examinations such as ultrasounds, mammograms and MRIs that can help detect and diagnose breast cancer early.
Depending on the kind and degree of cancer, treatments can vary. Common ways to treat breast cancer include lumpectomy, mastectomy, and chemotherapy.
A lumpectomy is when the tumor is removed leaving the breast intact. In the case of a mastectomy, the doctor surgically removes all of your breast and the connecting tissue. For chemotherapy, anticancer drugs are used for cancer treatment.
The best way to keep cancer at bay is to have annual breast checkups, and regular mammograms at your doctor’s office. Consult your doctor immediately if there is any breast pain, lump or tenderness that is out of the ordinary.