Recognizing The First Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is not a type of disease that comes without early signs. However, a lot of women fail to identify the first symptoms of breast cancer. As a result, when they find out about the existence of this cancer, it has already reached an advanced state (stage III or IV). Thus, women need to recognize the early signs of this cancer so that the chance of recovery is high. The early detection of the cancer may also prevent further damage to breast tissue. However, the worst thing that can happen besides death is that the affected breast needs to be removed. This normally happens when the cancer has reached stage IV.
The first symptoms of breast cancer usually do not cause any pain. One of the most common early symptoms is a hard lump in the breast. If it remains even after menstruation, you need to consult your doctor about it, because it might be malignant or cancerous. Women need to pay more attention to the upper outer quarter of the breast since about 50% of lumps are found in that area. If you feel a hard mass in your armpit, it might be a sign that the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes. This means that it has reached a more advanced state. The lump can also change the look of the affected breast. It may appear asymmetric or larger than the other breast and you may also notice some dimpling or puckering. The nipple of the affected breast can appear scaly or retracted. The texture of the breast and nipple may also feel like orange skin (this symptom is also known as peu d’orange). A change in color and texture of the areola and nipple discharge (with or without blood) may also indicate the disease. The not so obvious signs are soreness of the breast and nipple, swelling of one arm and weight loss. Women experiencing those three symptoms often mistake them for symptoms of other, not so serious diseases.
Over 80% of breast cancer cases are discovered through self examination and therefore it is extremely important for women to perform breast self examination (BSE) every month, particularly a week after menstruation. If you discover any unusual lumps, you need to consult your doctor immediately. Additionally, women aged 40 and over are advised to get a mammogram every 1 or 2 years. By doing so, if abnormal cells are present, your doctor can do further examination to determine whether the cells are cancerous or not. If they are cancerous, then you will be prescribed the appropriate treatment. If the cancer is detected early, you have a better chance of successful treatment.