Knowing the normal feel and look of your breasts is a vital part of your health. The most common sign of breast cancer is a mass or a lump. When breast cancer is detected early, it is treatable and can get cured. Hence, every individual needs to familiarize themselves with all the warning signs of this cancer. They should also become acquainted with their body, and in case of any abnormal changes, they should visit a doctor. Even though having regular cancer tests is essential, mammograms might not detect every breast cancer.
Here we will focus on the possible breast cancer symptoms that occur with or without a visible lump or mass in your breast. The symptoms might also not contain any cancerous cause. However, if you identify any of the signs and symptoms discussed below, contact your doctor so that you can take the test for both cancerous and noncancerous conditions.
Any clear changes to the appearance of your breast and skin should be a major concern. The reason being, breast cancer may result in skin cell inflammation that can result in texture changes. The skin around the areola and the nipple may become scaly. You might also experience skin thickening in your breast. These skin changes also result in itching, which is mainly associated with breast cancer. The skin changes might be a symptom of a breast cancer type that is very rare, referred to as Paget's disease. It is also essential to note that benign skin illnesses such as eczema and dermatitis might result in texture changes.
Lump or growth in your breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. This lump might feel very soft and small, or it might also feel like a stiff knot in the breast tissue. However, at times you might not feel the lump until the breast cancer has begun to develop to later stages. That is why women aged over 40 should consider having mammograms regularly. Mammograms can detect lumps that are so small to get detected through self-check.
Any form of nipple discharge is a warning sign in all breast cancer stages. Nipple discharge refers to any form of fluid that the nipple produces. You can observe a discharge that is either thick or thin and may appear in different colors ranging from watery to yellow, red, or green. Nipple discharge may denote breast cancer even though it might be noncancerous in most people. Note that there are other possible causes of nipple discharge. They include other medical conditions, breast infections, other medications side effects, effects of birth control pills, and body physiology side effects.
The breast may appear completely normal in the early stages of breast cancer. So, for the success of breast cancer treatment, early detection is very important. In later stages of breast cancer, the breast may start to swell. Other parts that are affected by this swelling are the underarm and arm area. At this point, the lymph nodes found under your arm may become cancerous, swell up, and block the body's normal flow of fluids. This may result in inflammation in most parts of the body.
Lymph node refers to the small, round collection of immune system tissues that capture harmful cells and filter fluids. The harmful cells include viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells. The moment the cancer cells move from the breast, the first destination is the lymph nodes found in the underarm next to the affected breast. This may result in swelling of armpit lymph nodes, and the cells may also move to the collarbone. The lymph nodes usually feel like a firm, small, swollen masses that might be tender. Note that the lymph tissue might change because of breast infections; hence, it is important to talk to your doctor if you notice any change.
Dimpling of the skin may signify an aggressive type of cancer called inflammatory breast cancer. Cancer cells may result in lymph fluid buildup, which causes swelling and dimpling. It is important to speak to a doctor if you notice skin dimpling.
One of the signs that you should visit a doctor is the pain because as the malignant tumor grows in your breast, the pain increases. This is because there is more pressure being placed on various parts of the chest. When the malignant gets to the skin, you experience pain, skin abrasions, and ulcers. Breast cancer causes severe pain if it spreads to the ribs.
Breast cancer can result in changes in the nipple. The nipple may invert or reverse inward in the breast, or it may appear different in size. Even though ovulation or menstrual cycle can alter the appearance of the nipples, it is good to talk to a doctor if you realize any change.
Cancer can make your skin appear bruised or discolored. If you have not experienced a trauma that could have caused this change visit your doctor. Also, if you experienced trauma but the discoloration is not disappearing, seek help.
Another major symptom of breast cancer is fatigue. Chemotherapy is one of the major causes of fatigue; however, even if the individual is not under this treatment, the body's overall changes might result in a feeling of tiredness. If you experience this symptom together with other two or three symptoms, contact your doctor and share the concerns.
The anxiety and discomfort of having breast cancer can lead to insomnia. Most people report that they go through a lot before falling asleep. Staying asleep is also an issue for them because pain awakens them. This is among the neglected symptoms of cancer that should be taken seriously.
Shortness of breath is also a symptom linked to breast cancer. This may be due to the tumor's positioning or growth inside your breast or on the chest wall. In case cancer has moved to the lungs, it could be the most definite cause of shortness of breath. Please note that this symptom does not always signify breast cancer, but you should take it seriously when detected along with other signs.
The moment breast cancer starts to spread; several other symptoms might become more visible. One of the most affected parts is the bones. Cancer can spread easily in the bones and lead to discomfort and pain. Patients might experience serious pain and motion loss in the spine, hips, legs, arms, and pelvis. This may cause sitting or walking a challenge due to pain. Once the cancer cells spread to the brain, they can heighten these symptoms' impact by causing other problems such as weakness, dizziness, and headaches.
Any cancer can result in vomiting, diarrhea, an upset stomach, and constipation. Patients might start to avoid various food types (in an attempt to ward off the stomach issues), so the body does not get enough calcium and fiber, leading to a set of problems that cause discomfort and pain in the stomach. Taking medications might help in calming some of the symptoms.
Breast cancer has several symptoms, including a lump in the breast and skin changes. Even though other conditions can lead to breast changes (infections, cysts, dermatitis, and eczema), you should not rule out cancer unless you have seen a doctor. Checkout for the above symptoms, and if you are experiencing them and suspect it is breast cancer, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.