It is important to know what your breasts look like. Also, know what they feel like normally. This way, you will notice any changes immediately.
Some changes may be an indication of early signs of cancer. Awareness of any unusual changes will alert you in good time.
Most people assume that is there are no lumps, they are clean. A mass that may be cancerous may be:
- Have irregular edges
However, some cancerous lumps are tender and rounded. A lump may alert you to the possibility of cancerous cells. However, it is not the only sign you need to look out for.
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Common Signs To Watch Out For
Here are a few other symptoms that you need to be aware of.
1. Nipple Discharge
A breastfeeding mother may notice a milky discharge from the nipples which is quite normal. Any other discharge should be examined by a doctor. Discharge from the nipple may range in color from clear to red as well as yellow and green. It could also be thin or thick.
Most nipple discharge is not cancerous. Nevertheless, you may want to have it checked by a qualified health provider to rule cancer out. Also, the discharge may be caused by other noncancerous infections that should be treated.
2. Change In Breast Size
A person may notice a distinct change in breast size especially if one breast looks bigger than the other. This may be as a result of swelling of one breast or the area around the infected breast. Even in the absence of an apparent lump after the swelling, one should still be concerned.
It is common to have breasts that are not uniform in size.Nonetheless, a noticeable change in size could spell trouble especially if the skin feels tight because of the swelling.
3. Changes In Lymph Nodes
Enlarged underarm lymph nodes may be an indication that harmful cells have collected therein. Cancerous cells leave the breast and migrate to the underarm lymph nodes on the side of the affected breast. This causes the lymph node to swell.
Additionally, one may notice that the lymph nodes around the collarbone are swollen. They feel tender as well as lumpy and swollen when you touch them. This, however, should not lead to panic.
There are myriads of other infections that cause lymph nodes in the underarm and around the collarbone to swell.
4. Change In The Texture Of The Skin
Cancer is said to cause inflammation in the skin cells that may lead to changes in skin texture. You may notice that the skin around your breast or nipple area feels unusual. Some of the changes you may experience include the following:
- The skin feels unnaturally thick around the breast area
- The skin around the areola as well as the nipple feels scaly – much like the way eczema feels
These changes may cause the affected area to itch.
If the skin around the breast appears discolored, you should have it examined especially if no trauma was involved. If there was trauma but the discoloration remains, consult your doctor.
All the same, one should not jump to conclusions if such changes are noticed. There are many reasons your skin texture may change including skin conditions such as dermatitis. It could also be an allergic reaction to some fabric or body wash.
5. Nipple Retraction
If the cells behind the nipple change, you may notice that the nipple looks like it reverses into the breast. It may also appear to be different in size from the other nipple. While the monthly cycle may cause changes in how your nipple looks, any unexplained changes should cause concern.
If you notice such changes in your nipples, have your breasts examined by your doctor as soon as possible.
Other signs that should have you making an appointment to see your doctor immediately include the following:
- Pain in the breasts or nipples
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Veins that appear prominently on the surface of the breast
When Do You Need A Doctor?
Breast changes do not automatically point to breast cancer. People should therefore not panic the moment they notice a change. There are other factors that may come into play such as:
- Hormonal upheavals
- Previous illnesses or breast infection
Nevertheless, any unusual changes need to be checked out by a health professional. If the changes are not related to factors such as injury or the menstrual cycle, have a doctor run tests. Some of the tests your doctor may run include:
These should be able to determine whether the change in your breast is caused by cancer or other unrelated issues.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to conduct regular self-examination in order to catch any change. If you are concerned about anything, have your doctor check it out as soon as possible.