“Breast cancer” is a scary term and it can be confusing and frightening to discover that you may have symptoms of cancer. However, checking your breasts for signs of breast cancer regularly can help you catch the disease early, which can drastically improve your treatment options.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
These 6 signs might be a sign of breast cancer and should be a reason to talk to your doctor. Additionally, don’t forget to check at which age your primary physician recommends that you start getting regular mammograms and other screening tests. When you start these, which tests you need and how often you should have them is dependent on your health and your family history. Remember that a family history of breast cancer doesn’t necessarily mean you will get it, but no family history of breast cancer does not mean you are safe. Don’t forget that the health history on your father’s side of the family is also important to discuss with your doctor.
The most common advice, and the most important, is to regularly check your breasts for unusual lumps. It is important to do this often to familiarise yourself with the feel of your breasts in their healthy state. This will make it much easier to detect unusual changes. Any sign of lumps is a cue to make an appointment with your doctor to get these checked out. While lumps can be benign, it is important to be tested as early as possible.
Any changes in the appearance of your nipples are of concern and should be brought to the attention of your doctor. While certain hormonal changes might bring about some changes, such as changes during pregnancy, most nipple changes are cause for concern. The most common changes that indicate the possibility of breast cancer are scaly skin on the nipple and inversions (although if your nipples have always been inverted, this is not in itself a concern).
The skin on your breasts likewise can change and indicate that there is something wrong underneath. The most common changes are changes in color and changes in texture. Your skin might turn red, and possibly also feel warm to the touch. Unless there is a specific injury causing this, you should consult your doctor. Similarly, if your skin develops dimples on the breasts, that is cause for concern. These dimples are most visible when raising your corresponding arm over your head. Again, these changes are most easy to spot if you are already familiar with what your breasts look like.
Swollen lymph nodes
Indications for breast cancer can appear in other areas of your body as well. The most common are your lymph nodes in your armpits. If these are swollen, this indicates an inflammation. Breast cancer can cause this inflammation but so can other infections or illnesses. Nodes that indicate cancer are typically not painful, but painful lymph nodes for no apparent reason can be a concern for other illnesses too. If you are not aware of any other condition causing swollen lymph nodes, this can be a sign of cancer and you should consult with your doctor.
Unusual nipple discharge
If you are finding small amounts of blood on your pajamas in the morning, this may be discharged from your nipples. Any blood that spontaneously discharges from the nipple is cause for concern, although blood that expresses when you manipulate your nipple can also be a sign of a problem. If you do find blood on your clothes, double-check there is no other apparent cause for it, like a small cut or spot on your breasts, or elsewhere that blood could have transferred from, like your hands. If you cannot find an apparent cause for the blood, it is important that you consider this a possible sign of breast cancer.
Changes in breast size
Lastly, changes in breast size after puberty typically only occur during pregnancy and the subsequent recovery after weaning, or because of hormonal changes when starting new birth control. In the latter case, this is something your doctor can discuss with you during your appointments. If you find that the size of your breasts has changed aside from those scenarios, especially if this is only occurring on one side, you should take note of this as well as a possible sign of breast cancer.
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