Breast cancer develops when cells in the breast grow out of control and form a tumor. If the cells begin to invade neighboring tissues or spread to other parts of the body, the tumor is considered malignant.
Breast cancer is ranked as the leading cause of cancer in women with a mortality rate of 12.7% per 100000 women.
Knowing the symptoms of breast cancer is important because it is the most common type of cancer in women. Although early-stage breast cancer may not show symptoms, being aware of changes in the breast can help in cancer detection and treatment. Here are some of the most common breast cancer signs and symptoms that every woman should be aware of.
1. Breast Lumps or Masses: If you notice a lump or mass in your breast, you should see a doctor since it could be a symptom of underlying breast cancer. It is one of the breast cancer warning signs. In most cases, the lumps are hard and painless, although in some cases they can cause painful lumps. However, not all lumps might indicate cancer. A fibroid or cyst in the breast, both of which are benign breast disorders that can cause lumps, could be the source of the lumps. As a result, consulting a doctor is necessary to determine the exact cause of the lumps and to perform the necessary tests for an appropriate diagnosis.
2. Swelling in the whole or part of the breast: Any type of swelling in the breast, whether it's a small area or the full breast, should be taken seriously. Though this might occur as a result of other disorders such as infections or pregnancy, other symptoms such as irritation and/or dimpling of the breast skin should be looked for. A self-breast inspection might help in detecting any abnormal changes. If this is the case, you should see a doctor right away.
3. Changes in the nipples: Breast cancer can change the look of the nipples in some conditions. It could be a symptom of breast cancer if your nipple turns inward rather than protruding outwards as it should. However, pain in the breast area may occur in some cases, which should not be ignored. Breast cancer is diagnosed by changes in the skin around the nipples, such as redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
4. Discharge from the nipples: Any fluid that leaks from one or both nipples, which is common after childbirth, is referred to as a nipple discharge. It can, however, occur during the reproductive years and be an indication of an injury, infection, or benign tumor. However, if nipple discharge is accompanied by dimpled skin, redness, swelling, or pain in the breast, it is the reason for worry. It is considered abnormal if there is a discharge from only one breast without any stimulation. Furthermore, leaking breasts with bloody discharge could be a sign of breast cancer, which should be checked by an expert.
5. Change in size or shape: Uneven breasts and changes in breast size are natural, but rapid changes in shape and size may be an early warning sign of breast cancer. This is because an uncontrolled growth of the cancerous cells in a specific area of the breast might cause a drastic change in the breast size. Also, any changes in the shape of the breast such as sagging of the breast or swelling that occurs only in a part of the breast should be checked right away. Any change in the contour, texture, or temperature of the breast is also a sign of breast cancer.
6. Swelling, itchiness, redness, or darkening of the breast: If your breast skin looks like an orange peel, becomes red or scaly, or if there is itching or dimpling, see a doctor earliest since it could be a sign of breast cancer.
7. Lump in the Underarm: When there is a lump in the underarm, there is a good chance that it might be related to the breasts. The tissue of the breast extends to the underarms. Also, cancer of the breast can spread through the lymph nodes present under the arms. Women need to undergo regular mammograms along with lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and maintaining a diet rich in vegetables, fish, and low-fat products to reduce the risk factors.
8. Breast pain: Although breast cancer does not normally cause pain in the breast, it can be a key symptom in some cases. Breast pain seems to be more common in women, particularly during their menstrual cycle. It usually starts about a week before the menstrual cycle and disappears completely within a day or two. However, if you experience sudden pain in the breast, or if the pain is not related to the menstrual cycle or does not go away after the menstrual cycle, have to see a doctor as soon as possible because it could be due to breast cancer or another benign condition.