June 28th, 2012 by Hasham
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
Due to the increased use of mammography, most women in the United States are diagnosed at very early stages of breast cancer, before symptoms appear. However, not all breast cancer is found through mammography. The most common symptoms of breast cancer are a change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge. Warning signs you should be aware of are listed below
If you have any of these symptoms, see your health care provider. In most cases, these changes are not cancer. For example, breast pain is more common with benign breast conditions than with breast cancer. However, the only way to know for sure is to see your provider. If breast cancer is present, it is best to be diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer is most treatable.
Breast lumps or lumpiness
Many women may find that their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture. For some women, the lumpiness is more pronounced than for others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then it is probably normal breast tissue. Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel like a change are a concern. When this type of lump is found, it may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition (such as a cyst or fibroadenoma). Learn more about benign breast conditions.
See your health care provider if:
You find a new lump or change that feels different from the rest of your breast.
You find a new lump or change that feels different from your other breast.
Feel something that is different from what you felt before.
If you are unsure whether you should have a lump checked, it is best to see your provider. Although a lump may be nothing to worry about, you will have the peace of mind that it has been checked.
Liquid leaking from your nipple (nipple discharge) can be troubling, but it is rarely a sign of cancer. Discharge can be your body’s natural reaction when the nipple is squeezed. Signs of a more serious condition, such as breast cancer, include:
Discharge that occurs without squeezing the nipple
Discharge that occurs in only one breast
Discharge that has blood in it or is clear (not milky)
Nipple discharge can also be caused by an infection or another condition that needs medical treatment. For these reasons, if you have any nipple discharge, see your health care provider.
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
You might find a suspicious lump by doing a regular, breast self-exam or your doctor might discover it after a routine mammogram. The goal is to make breast health a priority in your life so that you can detect any issues early and seek treatment sooner rather than later.
Research shows that minorities tend to seek treatment at later stages in the disease, which makes breast cancer harder to treat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are warning signs that every woman (and man) should be aware of as a result. They are listed here:
New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that some of these warning signs can happen with other conditions that are not cancer. However, if you have any of the signs above and it worries you, seek a doctor’s care as soon as possible. Don’t wait until symptoms worsen or “get better.”
The most common warning sign is a lump or an area of stiffening that you feel or your doctor feels. “It will feel hard and irregular, like a stone. It feels different from the rest of the breast tissue,” Weiss says. Keep in mind that eight out of 10 lumps turn out to be benign, Weiss says, so don’t immediately go to panic mode. But DO get it checked out by your doctor right away.
Breast Appearance Changes
Our breasts are hormonally active; they are constantly changing, Weiss says. Get to know your breasts, so you can spot the difference between changes that occur relating to hormones and changes out of the ordinary. If you notice that the contour of your breast has changed, and become dimpled, twisted, or retracted, that’s something to see your doctor about. Look also for bulges or concavities.
A natural scaffolding of ligaments inside your breast helps to hold your nipple in place. A cancer—which has spidery “fingers”—can start to pull the tissue into itself, causing the nipple to retract and become inverted, Weiss says. Looking at your breast in the mirror should be a regular part of any self-exam; notice if your nipples look different—such as if one is pulled in a different direction, or if there is any type of unusual discharge.
A symptom that can come up rather quickly is breast inflammation. If your breast suddenly feels swollen, has a pink-red color and the skin looks like orange peel, get it checked out immediately. “It could just be an infection,” Weiss says (which would be treated with antibiotics). But, inflammatory breast cancer—which comprises about five percent of all diagnosed breast cancers—also appears this way.
There are lymph nodes under your arms that can also be affected by breast cancer. When you examine your breasts monthly, you should also feel under your arms for lumps.
Fatigue and loss of appetite are symptoms of later stage breast cancer, Weiss says. Of course, you can feel fatigued and run-down for a whole host of reasons, including not enough sleep. But if you have unusual fatigue and/or have back, hip or neck pain that you can’t trace, don’t delay in seeing your doctor.
Possible Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
The warning signs of breast cancer include:
Lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle
A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea
A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple
A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed)
Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple
An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast
A marble-like hardened area under the skin
These changes may be found during a breast self-exam, an option for women starting in their 20s. Because experts don’t agree on whether breast self-exams are an effective way to detect potentially dangerous changes, it’s best to discuss their benefits and limitations with your health care provider.