Checking for Breast Cancer Symptoms

November 12, 2012

Checking for Breast Cancer Symptoms

This article will provide you with a basic overview of some of the breast cancer symptoms and the kinds of changes and abnormalities to the breasts that you should regularly check for as well what to do if you were to find a lump.

It is very regular for the first of the breast cancer symptoms noticed to be a lump. However, just because you have discovered a lump, does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. In fact, in 90% of cases the lump is benign, which means that it is not cancerous. A benign lump can occur for a number of reasons. It could be due to cell changes in the breasts causing lumpiness, which is often more obvious just before a menstrual period and common in women over the age of 35. Benign lumps could also be cysts, which are sacs of fluid caught in the breast tissue. Again this is quite common and not a cause for concern. Finally it could be down to fibroadenoma, which is a condition common in younger women and occurs when the fibrous glandular tissue collects together.

Breast cancer symptoms that you always be on the look out for include the following:

  • A lump or thickening of tissue in an area of the breast

  • A change in the size and shape of the breast

  • Dimpling or pulling of the skin of the breasts

  • A change in the shape or behaviour of the nipple such as turning in or sinking into the skin

  • A blood streaked discharge from the nipple

  • A rash on or surrounding the nipple

  • A swelling or lump in the armpit

Just like in the case of breast lumps, the occurrence of one or more of these breast cancer symptoms does not automatically mean cancer. There are many other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. However, if you do notice any of these things, don’t hesitate to get it checked out by a doctor as it is always best to catch these things as early as possible. In most cases it end up being a benign condition that is easy to treat. If it does turn out to be cancer you have given yourself a good chance of successful treatment by catching it early on, before it can progress and develop. There is another kind of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer, which causes different symptoms. The breast may feel hard, sore and become red and inflamed. The inflammation causes the pores to stand out, making the skin look similar to orange peel. Another rare type of breast cancer is called Paget’s disease and causes a red, scaly and itchy rash around the nipple.

If you find a lump or notice any other of the breast cancer symptoms, see your doctor straight away. It is important that cancer is ruled out quickly and will also put your mind at rest. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and then may decide to send you for further tests such as a mammogram or ultrasound. If a cyst is discovered containing fluid then it can be drained using a needle. If a solid lump is found, a needle will be used to take a tissue sample to be tested for cancerous cells. Whether a benign lump is removed or not is up to you. Some women prefer to have them removed to stop them worrying that it could be breast cancer, but it is quite safe to leave it. Benign lumps will not become cancerous.

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