Breast cancer as a term is a wide umbrella that includes many varying symptoms and signs showing or prefacing the disease. Thankfully there are changes from cancer that can be detected by a mammogram. And according to the ACS or American Cancer Society, while other breast cancers may alter the way it feels to you and even feel. Which is why they encourage people to get to know how their breasts look and how they feel, in order to take notice of any changes to go to a doctor and catch early if there is cancerous lump for example.
If you should find a sign that indicates it might be breast cancer, it is very normal to get scared and be suddenly unsure. But remember, try not to panic and you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can, so you get checked by your physician. Not every change you might notice is dangerous.
But It is paramount that if you suspect you might have it, to go get screened and tested! Do not just sit there and hope that it is not serious and wait for it to go away on its own. As we said earlier, go and get checked with your doctor. Getting an ultrasound is not really that expensive. Just know that the ACS says that lots of people, throughout their lifetime, will have some form of benign breast changes.
Breast cancer frequency
In the United states, around 12.8% of women will develop breast cancer at one point in their life. This statistic was reported by the NCI (National Cancer Institute), while men have a much lower percentage of cases it still can happen to them (0.13%). With age a woman’s risk of developing this disease tends to increase, but there is not really an age where it can happen.
Mammograms & ultrasounds
Generally mammograms are the best option for screening in order to detect breast cancer in women over the age of 40. However, in catching the presence of breast cancer ultrasounds are very important. Since ultrasounds are able to aid in the diagnosis process when alternative imaging options are not available or following screening of the female patient.
Breast Skin Discoloration
The color of the breast tissue may change in certain, rare, cases. This can be a symptom of a rare form of breast cancer, called inflammatory breast cancer, and normally affects women in their 60s. In 2018 a review was published in the World Journal of Oncology. This review illustrated that inflammatory breast cancer is aggressive but rare, thankfully it only shows up in 1-6% of cases.
If you find that you have discoloration in your breast tissue, is that an indication in and of itself of this rare form of breast cancer? A female patient can walk into the doctor’s office and report that her breasts feel heavy and are inflamed. In this case several factors come into play. What is her age? What is her health history? Now for example if you are in your younger years, 20s-30s and are breastfeeding, then any discoloration present can point to an infection that blocked her milk duct (mastitis).
On the other hand if you hit postmenopause and find any unexplained discoloration, then this may be a warning for you to listen to. You should head to your doctor and have him examine you to determine if it is something you should be concerned about.
Lumps can be hard or soft
A study published in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology in 2017 stated that the most common symptom that comes to mind whenever we think of breast cancer, is the presence and feeling of a lump in your breast tissue. Still not just because you feel a lump automatically equals it being cancerous! Some of the lumps a woman may experience in her life are non-cancerous or are benign cysts.
If a lump has irregular edges and is hard and painless, then this is an indication that it very well might be cancerous. However, you should note that the lumps also can be soft and tender so do not jump the gun right away.
As mentioned above not all lumps are cancerous. Benign lumps can be caused by several factors, from breastfeeding, to pregnancy, to your monthly period cycle. Harmless lumps are not something you have to stress over but should still get checked out. But you should remember that if a lump sticks for more than a single period, then you ought to head to your doctor.
Any swelling in the general area
There is more than one cause for swelling that may occur in the general chest area other than cancer, but if you are experiencing any swelling the ACS recommends you should naturally get it checked at a doctor’s to get the help you need. Now some types of breast cancer can cause swelling in the breast region, and if it has spread through your lymph nodes then you might experience this in the collarbone or armpit area.
If you notice any change in the way your breast feels, such as dimples appearing in the skin. That dimpling may point towards the presence of cancer, since cancer can cause changes in the skin by pulling on the surrounding skin making uneven divots. Also may end up looking like the texture of an orange peel or more known as peau d’orange (skin of the orange). According to the National Cancer Institute (NCIS), this is a likely symptom with inflammatory breast cancer.
As with people having variety and differences from one another, nipples also have different shapes. From nipples that point out to others being inverted or flat, all of these are normal to have. Inverted nipples are not always a sign of breast cancer, some women just naturally have them! However, if it normally sticks out and is inverted all of a sudden then you should go to a doctor to get checked out.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that in a year around 264,00 female breast cancer cases are reported and for men it is around 2,400 cases. The mortality of breast cancer in the U.S reveals roughly 42,000 women and 500 men pass from this disease every year.
An additional possible sign is a discharge coming out of your nipples. This is not normal since nipples should only release breast milk, if you are breastfeeding a child. Keep in mind that not every discharge immediately points to cancer, conditions like benign growth might be the cause behind it. Anything beyond breast milk, any other discharge released, like a bloody discharge should immediately make you take notice and push you towards getting checked out as soon as you can.
The same study published in the Cancer Epidemiology journal, further states that of a group near 6 women, there is usually 1 with breast cancer with other symptoms than lumps. And cases like this tend to put off going to a doctor, and some might even refuse treatment.
Finally, for me this can not be said enough. If you experience any changes in your breast be it benign you ought get them checked out at a professional healthcare provider.