Breast cancer is becoming a cause of worry for many women as the occurrences of this dreaded disease are rising.
However, it is important to know that the early detection of breast cancer can help to beat it. The only thing that is needed is ample awareness about breast cancer.
It is important to keep looking out for any changes in the breasts which may indicate something serious.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is the formation of a lump. This is the first sign and symptom that must not be ignored and immediately be checked out by the doctor.
Many times a lump does not turn out to be a cancerous tumor. But to be on the safer side, it is important to get any lump in the breast, clinically assessed.
A lump could be hard and painless. In some women, the lump could be tender and painful with a little swelling. However, if you notice a lump, do not panic. These lumps could be benign and not harmful. But you must show it to the doctor. In the advanced stages of breast cancer, the lump may grown bigger in size.
The growth of cancer can result in tenderness and pain in the breast. This pain could be like a dull ache which creates a throbbing sensation. Sometimes, it can be a sharp pain which is only felt when you touch the area. Breast pain does not necessarily mean breast cancer as women experience tenderness and pain in the breasts during the menstrual cycle as well. However, if the is persistent and accompanies other symptoms, you must get it checked out.
Changes in the Nipple
Abnormal changes in the nipple can be early signs of breast cancer. Such changes include intense itching around the nipples, inward turning of the nipple and changes in the shape. Some women may also notice crusting on their nipple which means that the skin on and around the area begins to appear uncharacteristically dry and flaky. Another very important symptom is the discharge from the nipple which is red, brown or yellow in color. All these symptoms need immediate clinical attention.
Changes in the Shape and Size of Breast
You must so a self breast exam to be able to notice any abnormal changes in the shape of the breasts. It is important to know here that there are many women in which the size of the breasts is not exactly similar. However, this is not a sign of breast cancer. If you notice any bulging or outgrowth that has suddenly appeared, then it could be a cause of worry. Sudden enlargement of one of the breasts must also be looked out for. You should also look out for any sort of bruise on the breast surface that is not a result of any injury.
Other Bodily Symptoms
It can be difficult to catch breast cancer at early stages. Other bodily symptoms begin to appear in the later stages of the cancer and may not necessarily get noticed. These include breathing difficulties, vaginal pain and sudden weight loss. Another symptom can be sudden pain the lymph nodes around the collarbone or pain in the armpit area. A lump in the armpit area must also not be ignored.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I do a self breast exam?
- The simplest way of doing a breast exam is to stand in front of the mirrors and assess the physical appearance of your breasts. Look out for any visible changes.
- Then using your fingertips, press over the breast surface in rotating motion to feel for any lumps. Start from the outer area of the breasts moving inwards towards the nipple.
- Do the same for your armpits as well.
- You can repeat the same steps while lying down as well.
How often should I do a breast exam?
It should ideally be done once a month after the periods is over.
How is breast cancer detected?
The doctor usually begins with a physical examination of the breast and then may recommend a mammogram or a biopsy to test the tissue.
Can a self breast exam be done in the shower?
Yes, it can be done in the shower as well. In fact, the soap will make it easier for your fingers to feel the breast surface and assess any lumps or hardened mass of tissue.
What age group is at a higher risk of having breast cancer?
The risk of breast cancer is the highest in women from 35-45 years of age group.