Breast cancer is a common health topic, but are you sure you know the symptoms of this disease? Knowing what you need to look for can result in early detection and a better chance for successful treatment. Even if you think you know how to recognize breast cancer, it still helps to review the symptoms every now and then. This way you are always on the defense and protecting your body from one of today’s most common diseases.
What are the most common symptoms of breast cancer?
• Lumps in the breast that last beyond your menstrual cycle. Cancerous lumps are usually painless, but all lumps should be examined by a doctor if they do not go away within a month.
• Armpit swelling
• Pain and tenderness in the breast in areas other than where a lump is detected. Again, tenderness can be associated with hormonal changes and your menstrual cycle, so watch for pain that persists.
• Noticeable changes in the shape of the breast, such as an indentation or flattening.
• Changes in size, contour, texture, or temperature of the breast. Red pitted splotches can be an indication of advanced cancer development.
• Changes in the nipple, such as itching, burning, or dimpling. Development of a nipple rash can also be associated with breast cancer
• Unusual discharge.
• Patches that look or feel different than the rest of the breast.
With our heightened sensitivity to breast cancer these days, women often panic when they detect something that seems unusual, but might be perfectly normal. It is better to err on the side of caution, so if you are concerned about anything, it does not hurt to bring it to your doctor’s attention. However, fearing the worst every time there is a change can cause a lot of stress. Though cancer is not the issue, you will create a variety of emotional problems by constantly worrying about changes.
Believe it or not, self-exams are considered controversial. The bottom line? It can’t hurt you to familiarize yourself with what is normal for your body. If a change occurs, it is easier to recognize and bring to your doctor’s attention. It is important to realize changes should not cause automaticpanic. Most of the time anything found in a self-exam is not cancer, but as always, you are better safe than sorry.
Addressing the Problem
So when should you bring something to your doctor’s attention?
• Any time a change occurs and is still present following your menstrual cycle.
• Any time a change is severe, such as pain, excessive discharge, or significant swelling.
• Any time there is a change in your family history of cancer. If a woman in your family develops breast cancer, you need to tell your doctor so he or she can begin to monitor you more closely.
• Any time you feel uncomfortable to the point of not being able to function properly. If your concern is so intense you cannot think about anything else, your doctor can put your mind at ease or diagnose the problem with a test that produces definitive results.
Breast cancer has grown increasingly common, but survival rates have also increased a great deal. Your best bet is to know your risk, recognize any symptoms, and do what you can to prevent a future problem.