Breast Cancer Warning Signs
May 05 2020
Breast Cancer Warning Signs
Breast cancer is a dangerous disease that poses a significant threat to people’s health. Although it can occur in men as well as women, the latter has a higher risk of emergence. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer among women, second only to lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
The risk of getting sick is relatively high. The organization predicts that more than 48,000 new cases of CIS – carcinoma in situ, a non-invasive type of the disease that is considered to be the earliest form – will be detected this year. As for invasive breast cancer, around 276,480 women are to be diagnosed. Such a diagnosis means that cancer cells have already spread into the surrounding breast tissue. To prevent that, it’s vital to pay attention to early signs of breast cancer.
Despite the scary numbers, many patients have managed to overcome the disease. The number of women who have completed the treatment or are still tackling the diagnosis exceeds 3.5 million. This may be caused by advances in medical treatment and more profound research that gives a better understanding of the problem itself.
The chances of overcoming the disease may be determined by several factors such as the type of breast cancer and the stage. For example, triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive form that is characterized by its fast-spreading pace, and there are only a few treatment options. Even this type can be healed by surgery if it hasn’t spread. If it has extended to other body parts, it is applicable for chemo or immunotherapy.
In order to start the treatment in time, it’s essential to spot breast cancer signs. Some of the indications can be detected before medical screening at the very beginning of the ailment.
What Are the Seven Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?
Early diagnosing of breast cancer is important as it shows higher potential for the increased abundance of treatments. This, in turn, results in higher chances of survival and overcoming the disease. For example, a surgery – one of the most popular treatment alternatives – can be performed in more diverse ways when a tumor is small. This implies the reduced possibility of surgery complications as a specialist can choose the safest option.
Although breast cancer is more widespread among women, according to the World Health Organization, it can be detected among men as well. Both must keep their eyes open for the possible signs of breast cancer. Generally, the signs are similar for men and women.
Older people especially have to look out for the indications. For instance, according to the American Cancer Society, women have a significantly higher chance of being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the age range of 40-79 years old.
Unfortunately, sometimes the only option to spot the severe disease is medical screening or testing. In other cases, a person may notice particular changes that often mean something is wrong. Here is a list of seven warning signs of breast cancer that apply to everyone regarding the ethnicity, gender, and age.
A New Lump or Swelling
1A new mass, lump, or swelling isn’t necessarily caused by cancer. However, lumps are commonly associated with such a diagnosis for many people. If this is the case, the lump will often be hard. Most of the time, the lumps aren’t painful, but it’s not a rule.
It’s vital to remember that such newly formed structures can appear anywhere, such as your collarbone, breast, or armpit.
Swelling or thickening may appear even before a lump has developed in or near areas mentioned above. The latter means that cancer has reached the lymph nodes. Such a change can result in an increased size of the breast. It’s particularly noticed, in the case that only one has neoplasms: its shape is likely to be different compared to the other breast. For example, inflammatory breast cancer can lead to swelling symptoms.
Despite the fact that some lumps can appear due to other reasons and even disappear with time, it’s advisable to consult a specialist. This must be done if a mass isn’t gone within a rather long period of time.
2There are two kinds of skin dimpling. It can be a single dimple that is a result of a growing mass, which pulls the skin inward. On the contrary, it can become pitted due to the buildup of fluid as a consequence of blocked lymph vessels in the skin by cancer cells. This is usually accompanied by swelling. In such a case, the skin can be compared to an orange peel. Such a symptom is a sign of Inflammatory Breast Cancer. As the skin change is involved, it is in Stage III.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
3Lymph nodes filter the clear fluid (lymph), which circulates through the lymphatic system. They are storing white blood cells, which play an important role as they kill invading organisms. The lymph nodes accumulate bacteria or diseased cells; this causes the increase in size in the case of infection or illness. As it can be noticed, such a change isn’t necessarily caused by cancer.
In the case of breast cancer, the lymph nodes in the armpits or above the collarbone are likely to be affected, if the cancer spreads. Swollen lymph nodes transform into small, firm masses that can become sensitive when touched. Sometimes, a person can experience discomfort and even pain if they are pushed.
4Skin changes may be caused by plenty of reasons. In terms of cancer, various types of the disease can cause the skin-related problems. The widespread deviations are thickening, redness, dryness, etc. It’s better not to neglect the symptoms; instead, turn to the specialist immediately. Inflammatory breast cancer or mastitis – a breast infection that usually occurs for breastfeeding women – can be the primary reasons.
Among other changes, one can develop conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, increased itching, and many more. You should pay attention not only to the skin conditions around the breast, but also the areola and nipples. For example, a flaking, thickened nipple, a tingling areola or nipple, and redness in this very area can be the symptoms of a rare breast ailment – mammary Paget disease.
5An inverted nipple is a condition in which the breast is turning inward. Cancer cells affect the duct behind nipples and pull them in. Such a change isn’t limited to the disease only and can be triggered by other factors. If the specialist confirms breast cancer, it can be one of two kinds: ductal carcinoma in situ (non-invasive) or invasive ductal carcinoma. The first kind is confined to the original site, while the latter can spread.
6Nipple discharge isn’t always a sign of cancer. The other reasons can be birth control pills, an infection, or certain medications. The release can vary by color from clear, milky, or yellow, to green and even red. A breastfeeding woman can have milky excretion from nipples. Commonly, normal discharge is often released after a nipple is squeezed and appears in both nipples. However, it’s always advisable to consult a specialist.
7Most types of breast cancer don’t cause pain in the area. However, there are some types that do. Many women have pain or discomfort in the breast or nipples due to menstruation. It’s rather common to experience this within about a week before the periods. Sudden, severe pain, which remains for a certain period of time, can be a sign of mastitis.
The discomfort can appear beyond the area if the tumor has spread into other parts of the body. Although many people may not consider, for example, pain in the shoulder as breast cancer symptom, it can be a red flag of an advanced form. Depending on where the tumor metastasizes, a person can experience bone, joint, or back pain.
Compulsory Testing and Screening
Breast cancer doesn’t always come with symptoms, especially in the early stages. In order to spot the terrifying disease during an early stage or abnormal changes, it’s advisable to carry out regular screening. Firstly, this shows more promise of treatment being successful. Secondly, it allows doctors to identify patients who have an increased risk of getting sick. If this is noticed, they’ll be monitored more carefully and often.
Organizations have different opinions on when a person should start regular clinical testing and how often it must be. For example, The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends conducting mammography once in two years for women in the age range of 50 – 74 years old. Women between 40-49 are advised to consult a doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of the mammography and consider carrying it out. The USPSTF recommends having a clinical breast examination along with the test.
People with higher risks of getting sick had better start regular check-ups earlier. This specifically applies to women whose first-degree relatives, such as a mother, daughter, or sister, have a breast cancer history. The risk of the diagnosis nearly doubles in such a case, according to the American Cancer Society.
Mammography is a popular method of breast cancer screening. Unfortunately, there are several risks involved. A test can show a “false-positive result”, which requires additional investigation. It causes severe stress to the patients. There is also a chance of getting a “false negative” result, which means that the cancer isn’t diagnosed.
Although it may not guarantee a 100% precise result, it’s not reasonable to neglect regular screenings. Many clinics keep up with technological development and turn to digital mammography. It delivers a sharper image, which means that it’s easier to detect smaller changes.
In order to increase the chances of early disease detection, it’s advisable to get acquainted with your body and learn the basics of the symptoms. If you want to know how to diagnose breast cancer at home, here are five steps to follow:
- Stand in front of a mirror, put your hands on your hips, and look at the breasts’ size, color, and shape.
- Raise both arms up and examine the same aspects.
- Check the nipples for any discharge.
- Lie down and examine the breasts with a firm, smooth touch. Use the right hand for the left breast and vice versa. Check all the areas, and don’t forget about the collarbone and armpit.
- Feel the whole area while sitting or standing.
How to Look After Those with Breast Cancer
Taking care of patients with any type of cancer requires specific training. Depending on the stage and medical conditions, a person can be transferred to home care. However, it doesn’t mean that the treatment is neglected completely or partially. Specialists must regularly supervise a patient. Many people hire a professional caregiver who can take care of and examine the patient on a daily basis.
Specialists know how to handle even sensitive situations, when, for instance, the sick patient wonders: “How do I know if I have developed advanced breast cancer?” It’s not always a good idea to explain all the symptoms of metastasis, as some paranoid patients can experience increased anxiety. A reasonable answer is to mention regular monitoring. Either way, he/she is going to experience it.
At the same time, it’s vital to examine the person. If he/she is in the first or second stage, a caregiver must observe the breasts in terms of skin texture and color change or pain in the nearby areas like arms, shoulders, pain.
One of the most crucial aspects is mental support. Whether it’s a relative or a nurse, the patient must feel his importance. It’s vital to be patient, especially if he/she experiences pain or any other discomfort.
Those who can’t fulfill daily routine activities like taking a shower or dressing up on their own mustn’t lose the sense of self-respect and dignity. All American Home Care highly-trained specialists will provide the best living conditions for your loved ones and accompany them every step of the thorny path. Contact a representative now to discuss the possible services.