Out of all of the breast cancer symptoms,the one that is most commonly heard of is a breast lump. Not all breast cancers present themselves in this fashion, but you should know how to find a lump in your breast.
Breast Self-exams (BSE) should be a very important part of a woman’s heath routine. It is recommended that every woman over the age of 20 perform her BSE on a monthly basis, preferably not when her breast are tender or swollen from her menstrual periods.
By doing this each month, she will have a good understanding on what your breast should feel like. If there are any subtle changes, you will know.
Women with normal-lumpy breasts typically feel that this is very intimidating because there are ‘too many lumps to keep track of’. It may be helpful to keep a picture journal of your breast lumps if you find this to be very mind-bogging.
Clinical Breast Exams (CBE) are performed by health care professionals. As a general rule, CBEs are recommended for all women over the age of 20.
The clinician will analyze your breast for any lumps, skin changes, size, shape and color. The axillary area should also be examined, as this is where the lymph nodes are located.
Any abnormal findings during a CBE should be followed up with additional testing. Speak to your doctor if you have any questions about CBEs.
All breast lumps feel differently. Typically, non-cancerous lumps feel mobile and can slide slightly between your fingers. Also, pain may or may not be present in benign lumps. Another common feature of a benign-breast lump is a decrease in size change such as in a breast cyst.
Cancerous lumps typically feel very fixed or non-mobile. These lumps may or may not have pain associated with them, however, most of the time they are not painful. Cancerous lumps as a general rule do not noticeably decrease in size, but rather increase in size at various rates.
If you notice a lump in your breast- NEVER ASSUME! Notify your doctor immediately.
Nipples serve as an exit for the ductal system in the breast. Nipple discharge can be a normal process in a woman’s breast; however, some nipple discharge can also be a sign of breast cancer or other breast problems.
Nipple discharge can present itself as many different colors. Such colors include: clear, white, red, pink, brown, blue and green. Nipple discharge may be spontaneous and express on its own or it may only appear if the nipple is squeezed. It may come out of many ducts or it may just come out of one.
Generally, nipple discharge is a benign condition. However, if you have any nipple discharge it is important to notify your doctor because it is a sometimes a breast cancer symptom. Be sure to include the any specifics of your discharge.
Breast pain is typically not a breast cancer symptom. In fact, most patients with Breast Cancer state that their breast never hurts.
Pain that does occur with breast cancer usually is constant and never lessens. It hurts in one specific and localized spot and does not hurt in the entire breast.
Axially pain can also be a possible symptom of lymph node aggravation. Lymph nodes can become tender and swollen for several reasons, one of them being breast cancer.
Breast pain, as recently stated, is typically not presented as a symptom of breast cancer. However, if can cause much discomfort and annoyance to a woman.
Change in Breast Appearance
As a general rule, a woman’s breasts should look very similar and symmetrical to one other. Worrisome features of a visual inspection of your breasts should include:
- A rash or reddening of the skin.
- Nipple changes.These changes include a ‘scaly’ or ‘crusty’ surface of the nipple. An Inversion or a ‘sinking-in’ effect should also be looked for.
- Swelling.This can include one specific area of swelling or swelling of the entire breast.
- Skin Texture.A texture that looks like the surface of an orange peel is a classic sign of a breast problem. Because this is a very serious breast cancer symptom, notify your doctor immediately if you have this appearance on your breast.
An Abnormal Screening Mammogram
Screening mammograms are used as yearly tools to evaluate the entire breast. Many breast cancers can form in the breast without any symptoms. For this reason, screening mammograms can often catch breast cancer at its earliest and most curable stage.
A radiologist will read your screening mammogram and you will be notified if there are any areas of suspicion. Further evaluation, such as a diagnostic mammogram or breast ultrasound will be needed to determine if this finding on your mammogram is indeed worrisome.