Knowing how your breast feels and look is a crucial part of your breast health. By detecting cancer in its early stages, you have a better chance of successful treatment. Mammograms and screening tests can help you identify breast cancer during its onset— before any visible signs start to appear.
The common sign of breast cancer is a painless, hard mass, or a lump with irregular edges, but it can also be tender, soft, or rounded. That’s why it’s crucial to have a breast exam from a medical professional experienced in diagnosing breast disease. Breast cancer remains the most common type of cancer in the United States, with an estimated 268,670 new cases reported in 2018.
To stay a step ahead, here are a few early signs to help you start your breast cancer treatment journey.
Structural Changes in your Breast
While a breast lump is one of the early signs of breast cancer, you should take a mammogram if you’ve got structural changes in your breast like change in the symmetry, unusual increase or decrease in size on one side, dimples, deformation in shape like indentation or flattening.
Other structural changes to watch out include;
• Lump in Your Underarm or Breast
You should routinely check your breast for a lump in your underarm or breast that doesn’t go away after your periods. This may be a sign of breast cancer. Most of the lumps associated with breast cancer will be painless, but some may cause a prickly sensation.
• Nipple Discharge
Nipple discharge can result from an infection or squeezing the nipples. You should consult a cancer specialist if a discharge; occurs without squeezing the nipple, is in only one breast, and contains blood.
Changes to the Skin Texture
Breast cancer may cause inflammation and changes in skin cells that can lead to texture changes. The common texture changes include a scaly skin on the nipple and areola as if the skin is extremely dry or sunburned.
A professional medical exam can distinguish whether its breast cancer given that texture changes may be as a result of benign skin conditions, including eczema and dermatitis.
Skin dimpling can be as a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. This is where cancer cells build-up lymph fluid in the breast, which results in pitted skin, dimpling, as well as swelling. You should get a breast exam from a professional healthcare provider if you notice skin dimpling.
Breast cancer may cause changes to the skin that makes it appear bruised or discolored. In some cases, the skin may be purple or red or have a bluish tint. If you haven’t experienced any recent trauma to explain such changes, you need to see a doctor.
Lymph Node Changes
Lymph nodes are a small, rounded collection of tissues that filter fluids and capture harmful cells, including cancer cells, viruses, and bacteria. Once cancer cells leave the breast, they travel to the underarm lymph node region just the same side as the affected breast. This may lead to swelling in the area.
Apart from the swelling in the lymph nodes, a person may notice them around the collarbone. They usually feel like swollen, firm, small lumps and may be tender to touch. You should get a breast exam as lymph tissues may change due to breast infections or other illnesses.
Nipple or Breast Pain
Breast cancer may result in changes in the skin cells that can lead to a feeling of discomfort, tenderness, and pain in the breast. While breast cancer may be painless, you shouldn’t ignore signs that could be as a result of breast cancer.
Inversion or Retraction of the Nipple
Breast cancer may cause changes in cells behind your nipple. Such changes may result in the nipple reversing and inverting inwards into the breast. There may be changes in the appearance of the nipple during ovulation or other parts of the menstrual cycle. It’s however essential that you see a doctor for a breast exam in case of any new nipple changes.
Being cautious of your health is vital if you want to be a step ahead of any medical condition. Breast cancer can easily be prevented and treated, but you must pay close attention to the early warning signs highlighted in this article.