Breast Cancer Symptoms – Knowing What to Look For
Since most women today are quite aware of breast cancer and self testing, there are still many who only have a general knowledge of the symptoms of breast cancer. Knowing what to look for when suspecting you might have breast cancer, may save your life!
So let’s begin with what most women have become accustomed to doing, that is checking for lumps in their breast and the armpits. However, keep in mind that lumps in the breast does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Actually, they’re very common especially during menstruation, but doesn’t mean you have breast cancer.
Most often breast cancer is first noticed as a painless lump in the breast or armpit. Other signs may include swelling in the armpit, changes in breast size or shape, dimpling or puckering of the skin – thickening and dimpling skin is sometimes called “orange peel”, redness, swelling and increased warmth in the affected breast, an inverted nipple – nipple turns inwards, crusting or scaling on the nipple.
Bare in mind, that the above symptoms are not always caused by cancer. Other health problems can cause them as well. Therefore, testing is the next best thing to do to make a proper diagnosis. Ironically, women are so breast cancer aware that statistically 9 out of 10 women are the first to notice a lump or mass in their breast.
It usually isn’t painful, but can cause an unusual sensation in the area where the lump is. When a tumor grows in the milk ducts, bleeding can occur from the nipple. The size or shape of the breast may change. As well, the nipple might draw in, or some of the skin will pull in causing what looks like a dimple to appear. While these might be early signs of breast cancer, they might also indicate another noncancerous disease. In fact, about 8 out of 10 breast growths are non-cancerous. A doctor should be consulted to determine the exact cause of the lump.
Since the most common form of detection is self-induced testing (feeling for lumps), you should be aware that statistically that 90% are benign. This means they are not cancers. They are areas of breast change causing lumpiness that is more obvious just before a period, especially in women over 35. They can also be cysts (sacs of fluid in the breast tissue). Finally, fibroadenoma, which is a collection of fibrous glandular tissue, more common in younger women.
So if you feel you have breast cancer symptoms, the best course of action to take if you find a lump or other change in your breast, even if a recent mammogram was normal, is to see your doctor for an evaluation. If you haven’t yet gone through menopause, you may want to wait through one menstrual cycle before seeing your doctor. If the change hasn’t gone away after a month, have it evaluated promptly.