Each year, there are about 264,000 diagnoses of breast cancer in women and about 2,000 in men.
Breast cancer can kill, so it’s important that you know the signs and the symptoms so that you can catch it early. If you can catch it early, you will be in much better shape down the road.
But what are the signs? What are the symptoms of breast cancer? And can you check yourself for breast changes?
We go over all of this and more in this guide. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer where cells in the breast grow too quickly and disproportionately when they should.
When cancer begins in the breast, it can start in several different locations. The lobules are the glands in the breasts that create milk; the ducts carry the milk to the nipple, and the connective tissue is what surrounds everything else (making the majority of the breast). Most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules.
If breast cancer goes undetected for too long, it can spread outside to other parts of the body through blood vessels and lymph vessels.
There are several different kinds of breast cancer to be aware of.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
This cancer begins in the ducts. It then grows outside of the ducts into other parts of the breasts. This cancer can spread throughout the body if left undetected.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
This cancer begins in the lobules. It can spread to other parts of the breasts as well as the rest of the body.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that may be easier to detect than some other cancers. Some of the signs that you should look out for are below.
For starters, if you feel a new lump in the breast or your underarm in your armpit, this could be a sign of cancer. However, sometimes if you are getting a normal cold or flu, you may also have a swollen lymph node in your armpit. This is something to keep an eye on.
Thickening and swelling of the breasts could also be a sign of breast cancer. While this does happen around the time of some women’s menstrual cycles, it is something to be aware of as it is not that time of the month.
You may also notice some of the symptoms as well:
- Irritation of some of the breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area
- Pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
If you have consistent pain in the area of your breasts, that is also a cause for concern. If this goes on for a few days or weeks, it may be best to see a doctor so that you can talk through options to determine your next steps.
Keep in mind, though, that these signs can be a sign of something else as well. It can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
Preventing Breast Cancer
There are not necessarily ways that you can avoid breast cancer altogether, but there are ways you can catch it early if it does happen to you. Here are a few things you can do to stay on top of your health.
Get a Mammogram
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast that looks for early signs of breast cancer. This should be done on a yearly basis, so stay on top of your health and catch cancer early on.
Scheduling these appointments is easy with a doctor that cares about your breast health.
Do a Self-Check
You do not have to wait for a once-a-year check, either. You can also do a self-check to make sure that you do not feel any breast lumps or breast changes.
To do this, place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right arm behind your head, below your neck. Using your left hand, feel around your breast with your fingers. Be sure to cover the entire breast area and armpit with different pressures.
You should also squeeze the nipple to check for discharge or abnormal lumps.
Repeat this on the other side.
If you notice anything abnormal, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
As with any cancer, it is best to keep in mind how you are living your life.
You should exercise on a daily basis (or at least 5 times per week) and eat right during your meals, as well as limit your alcohol intake. The more alcohol that you drink, the more risk you are at of developing breast cancer.
Additionally, if you have children, breastfeeding them may reduce your risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer: Stay Informed
Breast cancer is not something that you want to mess around with. It can be extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal if not addressed in a quick manner.
Now that you have read this guide, you know the signs and symptoms to watch out for. You also know how you can take steps to prevent breast cancer from getting out of control before you notice it.
If you have not been to the doctor for a mammogram or to have your overall health checked, you should schedule an appointment at Blue Sky Health today. Our doctors truly care about your overall health—before you get sick.