Breast Cancer Signs & Symptoms
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, with an estimated one in eight women acquiring it during their lifetime. While mammograms can be helpful, they aren’t perfect. Therefore, not all breast cancers will be caught during routine screening. This is why it’s important to become familiar with what’s normal for your breasts. Knowing what to look for can help you be proactive in detecting breast cancer as early as possible, giving you a better opportunity for a complete recovery.
The most common sign of breast cancer is a painless lump or mass. Typically, lumps are hard to the touch and uneven along the edges, although in some cases, they are soft and rounded. If you find a lump, we recommend you contact your physician – a primary care doctor or a gynecologist – so it can be evaluated. It’s important that you try not to panic as not all lumps are cancerous. If it is cancer, however, your quick action will have put you that much closer to recovery.
The additional warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer can be easily detectable if you know what to look for. You should schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your doctor if you notice one or more of these or anything out of the ordinary. Other common signs and symptoms of breast cancer to be aware of include:
- Lump or swelling around the breast, armpit, or collarbone. Lumps or swelling in the areas surrounding your breasts can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes. You may see this before you can feel a lump in your breast.
- Warm, red, irritated and/or itchy breasts. These are among the most common early warning signs of inflammatory breast cancer.
- Nipple discharge. Any nipple discharge should be examined by a doctor other than breast milk that may leak from breasts during or after pregnancy. A clear or bloody discharge may indicate that cancer is present.
- Scaliness. Healthy breast skin is smooth. Scaly or inflamed skin, however, is a red flag.
- Change in breast size or shape. It’s normal for women to have one breast that is larger than the other and many do. With that said, any new change in breast size or shape especially in just one breast can be an indication of cancer.
- Changes in skin texture. Rashes and/or puckering or dimpling on the breast could be a sign of breast cancer. Skin changes related to breast cancer may resemble the rough skin of an orange peel.
- Flat or inverted nipple. Some women have naturally inverted nipples. However, if you begin experiencing unusual nipple retraction, or they begin turning inward, have it checked by a doctor.
While it’s very important to understand the red flags that could indicate breast cancer, it is equally important to understand what is considered normal. For example, periodic breast pain, tenderness, and heaviness are very common symptoms during a woman's menstrual cycle. These symptoms are most likely the result of normal, monthly hormonal changes in your body if you experience these feelings in both breasts and are menstruating or about to begin your cycle.
When to Get Checked for Breast Cancer
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you're having pain at times other than the start of your menstrual cycle, you should consider talking with your gynecologist about a mammogram screening.
Mammograms effectively detect 84% of breast cancers; so when you're given a clean bill of health, you can set your mind at ease. If your mammogram does happen to detect a suspicious mass, you will likely need further evaluation to make a diagnosis.
For your convenience, we have several offices located in Brevard County, Florida contact Cancer Care Centers of Brevard today.