Breast cancer and all kinds of cancer share a common trait and truth- The earlier it is detected, the better your chances of conquering it. The exact causes are not very well understood, but it’s believed to be linked to a complex combination of genetics, environment and hormones. Many people are not aware of this, but men can get breast cancer as well. However, it is more prevalent with women. It can potentially strike at any age, but seniors are at much higher risk than younger adults. There are several kinds of breast cancer as well.
Listed below are some of the most common warning signs of breast cancer to watch out for.
Have you suddenly noticed a lump in your breast, underarm or collarbone that wasn’t there before?
This is often the very first early sign of breast cancer. If you can still see and feel it even after your period ends, this is a cause for concern and should get tested by a doctor as soon as possible. The lump may or may not be cancerous, and thankfully, around 70% of the time, it’s a result of another benign condition. But it’s better to be on the safe side and get it checked out before it has a chance to spread and get worse.
However, doctors are able to catch a cancerous lump via mammogram or MRI before you even see or feel it. Regular testing for early detection is very wise and can make all the difference in how fast and well you recover.
During pregnancy, it’s totally normal and natural to experience milky leaks and lactating discharges here and there, and you may continue to experience this for the duration of the nursing phase. However, if neither of these apply to you, then it is legitimate to be worried. Unusual and unexplainable nipple discharges and pain require immediate attention and testing. These abnormal discharges may be clear, brown, yellow, or red in color.
It’s important to know that some infections can cause these symptoms as well. But whether it proves to be cancerous or not, it should never be ignored.
Everyone is prone to getting a little itch or rash around their breast area occasionally, usually caused by an allergic reaction or insect bite. But if the itching, redness and irritation is chronic, especially if it’s accompanied by swelling, then that is another warning sign of possible breast cancer.
Some skin conditions can cause severe itching and irritation all over the body, including the breasts and chest area. So you may not have breast cancer. The only way to know definitively is to get tested.
This is one of the warning signs that usually occurs in more advanced stages of breast cancer. Due to the many illnesses and conditions that this symptom can appear in, it can be difficult to discover and pinpoint the cancer, especially if there were no obvious abnormalities on or near the breasts to begin with.
Normal and healthy breast skin is smooth and soft, except for the area surrounding the nipples. If you feel any differences in the skin texture elsewhere, this is yet another warning sign of breast cancer.
This warning sign is one of the easiest to detect. Many women have one breast that’s slightly larger than the other, but if one of your breasts suddenly swells, hurts and changes shape or overall appearance with no other possible or apparent explanation, such as a poisonous spider bite or a reaction to a bee or wasp sting, then this is a strong warning sign of breast cancer.
Like many cancers, breast cancer can potentially come back in the other breast within the first two years post recovery. So, if you’ve recovered and got a negative cancer result, celebrate your victory! However, you should still keep testing for a while. Regular testing, professional guidance and early detection can significantly reduce your chances of a relapse, and make a quicker and easier recovery if it does come back.
And just like any serious, scary and potentially life threatening disease, breast cancer can take a heavy toll on your mental and emotional health. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and find yourself struggling mentally, there are many support groups dedicated to helping breast cancer patients cope better with this awful disease and improve their daily quality of life. Plus, you can also turn to trusted friends or family, or to counselors and other mental health professionals for help. You are never alone, so many women are fighting breast cancer together with you.