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Breast Cancer Signs And Symptoms That Can Help With Early Detection Of The Disease

Lubna KhanLubna Khan  |  Sep 17, 2021
breast cancer signs and symptoms

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Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women and there is a misconception among people that it only happens to older women. While it’s true that most breast cancers are found in women who are 40 years or older, it is imperative to know that it can strike any female at any age. According to cancerindia.org.in, breast cancer accounts for 14% of all cancers in women. The stats can sound scary, but that doesn’t mean we have to be afraid. What we need is to be alert and aware. It’s important to keep yourself aware of breast cancer symptoms, signs of breast cancer in women, and how to examine breast cancer.  

Early Signs of Breast Cancer

Early Signs of Breast Cancer
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They say ‘knowing is half the battle’. This is true in the case of breast cancer too. Early detection is the best defense against this disease. We’re getting closer to October, which is observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and now is a good time to educate yourself about breast cancer symptoms and early signs of breast cancer.

Lump Felt In Your Breast Or Armpit

This is usually one of the first and most common signs of breast cancer in women. A lump can be seen on a mammogram even before one can see or feel it. Having said that, do not fret if you feel a lump in these areas, as a lot of these lumps can be benign, non-cancerous, and could have been caused due to other reasons. If the lump doesn’t go away after your next period, see a doctor for an evaluation.

Changes In Appearance Of Nipples

Changes in the appearance of one or both nipples can be an early sign of breast cancer. It includes changes such as pulling in of the nipple, dimpled appearance, burning, or itching.

Pain In Any Area Of The Breast

Check for pain and tenderness in any area of your breast. While lumps don’t usually hurt, some may cause a prickly sensation. However, pain in your breasts can also be due to numerous other benign reasons and hormonal changes. 

Unusual Nipple Discharge

An unusual nipple discharge that’s clear, red, brown, or yellow (other than breast milk) can be an early sign of breast cancer. If you notice this, consult a doctor for an evaluation.

Breast Changes

Look for changes in shape, swelling, difference in size, texture, or temperature of either one or both breasts.

Unexplained Redness/Rash

Early warning signs of breast cancer can include unexplained redness, swelling, itchiness, or rash on one or both breasts.

Swelling Around The Collarbone Or Armpit

Consult your doctor if you notice swelling around your collarbone or under the arm. It could be a sign that the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in that area.

signs of breast cancer in women
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While these are some of the early signs of breast cancer, it is important to remember that these can also be caused by benign conditions. It’s always best to consult a doctor so that they can evaluate and help you determine whether it is cause for concern.

Apart from this, it’s also important to keep in mind that often, women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast screening is important to detect it. The main tool to diagnose breast cancer is a mammogram, which basically shows normal and abnormal breast tissue.

It is recommended that women should start getting mammograms when they cross the age of 40 and should continue getting one every 1 or 2 years. Meanwhile, for women above the age of 20, monthly breast self-examination is recommended.

Breast Cancer Types & Symptoms

breast cancer types in females
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There are many types of breast cancer, determined by the cells in the breasts that have been affected. The type can also depend on whether the cancer has spread to the surrounding tissue or not. Find out more about breast cancer types and their symptoms below.

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)

The word in-situ refers to something being ‘in the original place’. Similarly, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a type of cancer in the cells that line your ducts, that hasn’t grown or spread into nearby tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer, and there may not be any noticeable symptoms. While DCIS breast cancer symptoms rarely appear, it may include a breast lump or bloody discharge from the nipple.

Lobular Carcinoma

Lobular carcinoma is the second most common breast cancer type after DCIS, and it begins in the milk-producing glands known as ‘lobules’. Its symptoms include fullness, thickening, or swelling in one area which feels different from the surrounding area. Another symptom of lobular carcinoma includes nipple flattening or inversion. 

Invasive Breast Cancer

Invasive breast cancer is basically a type of breast cancer that has spread from where it began to the surrounding tissues. Its symptoms include a lump in the breast or armpit, rash or dimpling on the skin, swelling, skin sores, pain in one spot of your breast.

Metastatic Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can spread beyond the part where it started to other organs, if untreated. This spread of cancer to other organs is called metastatic breast cancer. Its symptoms may vary depending on where in the body the cancer has spread. It may include headache, bone pain, stomach swelling, double vision, nausea, changes in brain function, yellowing skin, weight loss.  

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

This is an aggressive type of breast cancer. It is basically cancer that tests negative for the following three things- the hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and the protein HER2. Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for 10 to 15% of breast cancer cases and it also spreads faster than other types.

 Inflammatory Breast Cancer

This is a rare, yet aggressive type of breast cancer, and can spread very quickly. About 1 to 5% of all breast cancer cases are inflammatory breast cancers.  It causes your breast to swell, feel warm, and look red. Besides this, other symptoms include dimpled or leathery skin, unusual nipple discharge, nipple that turns inward. If you notice any of these symptoms, please report to a doctor immediately.

Paget Disease Of The Breast

This type of breast cancer starts in the ducts of the nipple and then spreads to the skin and areola. It is rare, and its symptoms include crusted, scaly, red nipple skin, itching, a flat or inverted nipple, unusual discharge.

Angiosarcoma

Angiosarcoma is another rare type of breast cancer that makes up less than 2 percent of all breast cancer cases. Its symptoms can include a lump in your breast, a bruise-like purplish area of skin, a lesion that may bleed when scratched, and pain in one area. 

Pink Fashion Items To Support Breast Cancer Awareness: Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month with everything pink! Check out these fabulous fashion items that you can flaunt this October.  

Breast Cancer Treatment: Now that you are aware of breast cancer types and symptoms, here’s all you need to know about its different treatment methods.

How To Check Yourself For Breast Cancer: If you’re over the age of 20, check your breasts at least once a month. If you’ve never done a breast exam before, read this article to figure out what you need to do.

Breast Cancer Awareness Quotes: Here are some breast cancer awareness quotes and slogans that you can share on social media to show your support for the cause. 

Most importantly, check yourself, ladies! Regular self-examinations can help you detect early signs of breast cancer. When in doubt, get yourself checked by medical professionals. 

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