The most commonly occurring cancer in women is Breast Cancer. It is the second most common cancer overall. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances for a successful treatment. So, it is important you look for these signs and symptoms and check your breasts regularly. Breast cancer normally occurs in women but men are not immune to this cancer because men can get breast cancer too.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a cancer that is developed from breast tissue. The cells in the breast begin to grow uncontrollably and form a tumour that can be felt as a lump. Lumps are usually seen on an x-ray. If the cells grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body, then the tumour can be called cancer.
Breast cancer starts from various parts of the breast but in most of the cases, the cancer begins in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple. This is called ductal cancer. Some cancers called lobular cancers start in the glands that make milk. There are other types of cancers which start from the parts of the breast other than duct glands but they are less common. Some cancers start in other tissues of the breast called sarcomas and lymphomas are not considered as cancers.
Check your Breasts on Regular Basis
There is nothing embarrassing about checking for any abnormalities in your breast. Breast cancer if diagnosed early can be treated successfully into remission. There is no special technique to check your breasts. Just get to know how your breasts look and feel. Check the whole breast area including upper chest and armpits as cancer cells spread easily. If you spot any changes, visit a doctor to get it checked.
Signs you Should be Looking for
Lumps are the most basic sign you should be looking for. Lumps are the first symptom of breast cancer in many women. But there are other signs and symptoms you should look for.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass. Not all masses are malignant, some masses can be benign. A painless mass which is hard with irregular edges can most likely be cancer but soft, tender or round masses can be breast cancer. They can be painful. So for this reason, it is important to have any change in your breast get checked by doctor.
Change in size or shape
If you observe any change in size or shape of your breast don’t neglect it. It might be an early sign of breast cancer. Changes like one breast becoming slightly larger than other or even droop a little cannot be neglected. In some cases you can see swelling of an entire breast or part of a breast.
Change in skin texture
Inflammation in skin cells due to cancer can lead to change in skin texture. These changes include
- Scaly skin around the areola and nipple as if the skin is extremely dry or sunburned.
- Thickening of skin in any part of the breast.
- Itching is also a commonly observed in people with breast cancer.
These changes can be a symptom of a rare breast cancer called Pagets disease or even the result of benign skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema.
Change in Colour
Breast cancer can cause change to the skin colour and make it appear as bruised. The skin may have red or purple or bluish tint. If your breast changes colour without any recent trauma, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
If you ever observe discharge from the nipple other than breast milk, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Even though most of the nipple discharges are noncancerous, it may be a symptom of breast cancer in some people. So, why take a chance..! There are other reasons for nipple discharge.
- Breast infection.
- Side effect of birth control pills.
- Variations in body physiology.
- Certain medical conditions and medications.
Skin dimpling is a sign of inflammatory breast cancer in some cases. It is an aggressive type of breast cancer. Lymph fluid is build up in the breast and is used by cancer cells leading to swelling and dimpling or pitted skin. This dimpled skin is referred as â€˜Peau dâ€™orangeâ€™ by the doctors because the skin resembles the surface of an orange.
Lymph node changes
Lymph nodes are small collections of immune system tissue which filters fluid and capture potentially harmful cells including bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. When cancer cells spreads from breast, the first place it travels to is the lymph node region in the underarm on the same side as the affected breast area. This can lead to swelling in the area. Swollen lymph nodes can be found around the collar bone which feel like small lumps and tender to touch.
Breast or Nipple pain
Even though breast cancer is often painless, don’t ignore any signs of pain or burning sensation in your breast. Breast cancer may cause changes in skin that can lead to pain and tenderness and even discomfort in the breast.
Nipple retraction or inversion
Breast cancer can cause changes to your cells behind the nipple that results in nipple inverting and retracting into the breast or nipple may look different in terms of size.
When you observe these changes, do not panic. There are a number of reasons for these changes to occur other than cancer. Aging, change in hormone levels and many other factors lead to these changes. Even though cysts, infections, eczema and dermatitis can cause these changes, you should not rule out breast cancer. Please visit a doctor and make sure these changes are not cancerous.