No : Unusual Swelling
If there is no reason for your breasts to swell such as the hormonal changes that occur when getting your period or during pregnancy, an infection from breastfeeding, or an injury a change in the size or shape of your breasts could be a sign of breast cancer. Also, be aware of swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone, which could indicate breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. Even if there isnt a lump you can feel, and even though other conditions may cause breast swelling as well, this is still a change worth telling your doctor about.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer
The most common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Feeling a lump in the breast area, with or without pain
- Change in breast shape or size
- Dimple or puckering in breast
- A nipple turning inward into the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, especially if it is bloody
- Scaly, red, darkened or swollen skin in the breast area
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Dimple, pitted appearance or feel in the breast area
- Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes around the breast area, including the collarbone and armpits
Although these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, you should check with a doctor preferably a breast health specialist so they can make a definitive diagnosis.
What Is The Difference Between A Normal Or Cancerous Breast
There is no typical way to define a normal breast. As there are different women in the world, there are different normal breasts.
The only way that can differentiate a normal breast from a cancerous breast is the formation of a tumour in the breast.
Something normal for one woman may not be normal for another. The breast changes with age and other body changes such as having a period, being pregnant, weight change and taking medications.
The best way to be sure about your condition is to consult a doctor. Several diagnostic tests can be used to be sure about your condition. If you have any doubts, contact a specialist.
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No : A New Lump In The Breast
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast or armpit. It can be painless, hard and have uneven edges, or it can be tender, round and soft. Many women have naturally lumpy breasts, and your breasts may also feel different when you have your period, while pregnant or breastfeeding, when taking certain medications, gaining or losing weight, or with aging. But if youre familiar with your breasts, youll be more likely to notice any physical changes or abnormalities.
The Most Common Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The most common symptoms of breast cancer that a family physician encounters are:-
- a palpable lump
- pain in the breast
- nipple discharge
Indeed all of the above symptoms will lead to a referral for breast cancer screening. Statistically speaking, presenting with a painless breast lump occurs about 56% of the time and a painful lump about 17% of the time.
Ulceration is the main presenting complaint about 16% of the time, and nipple discharge accounts for 11% of presenting breast cancer symptoms. However, the really good news is that overall only about 3% of women who present with these complaints actually turn out to have breast cancer.
and a few more Statistics
Statistically, there is an elevation in the risk of breast cancer if the patient presents with a breast lump.
In the case of a presenting breast lump, an eventual diagnosis of breast cancer occurs around 8% of the time.
However, the chances of breast cancer in the patient presenting with nipple complaints is only about 2%. Even better news for those presenting with breast pain, this turns out to be breast cancer in only 1% of cases.
Family physicians generally do not consider breast pain to be indicative of underlying malignant breast cancer. Indeed, doctors will only refer to a specialist about 17% of women who present with breast pain.
On average, and this is shocking, ladies, a woman will wait about 13 months before seeing their GP regarding breast symptoms that could be cancer.
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Ovarian Ablation Or Suppression
In women who haven’t experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries. Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.
Ablation can be carried out using surgery or radiotherapy. It stops the ovaries working permanently and means you’ll experience the menopause early.
Ovarian suppression involves using a medication called goserelin, which is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist . Your periods will stop while you’re taking it, although they should start again once your treatment is complete.
If you’re approaching the menopause , your periods may not start again after you stop taking goserelin.
Goserelin is taken as an injection once a month and can cause menopausal side effects, including:
- hot flushes and sweats
Read further information about hormone therapy
Tests To Determine Specific Types Of Treatment
You’ll also need tests that show whether the cancer will respond to specific types of treatment. The results of these tests can give your doctors a more complete picture of the type of cancer you have and how best to treat it. The types of test you could be offered are discussed below.
In some cases, breast cancer cells can be stimulated to grow by hormones that occur naturally in your body, such as oestrogen and progesterone.
If this is the case, the cancer may be treated by stopping the effects of the hormones, or by lowering the level of these hormones in your body. This is known as ‘hormone therapy’.
During a hormone receptor test, a sample of cancer cells will be taken from your breast and tested to see if they respond to either oestrogen or progesterone. If the hormone is able to attach to the cancer cells , they’re known as ‘hormone receptor positive’.
While hormones can encourage the growth of some types of breast cancer, other types are stimulated by a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 .
These types of cancer can be diagnosed using a HER2 test, and treated with medication to block the effects of HER2. This is known as ‘biological’ or ‘targeted’ therapy.
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What Are The Symptoms
Breast cancer can cause:
- A change in the way the breast feels. The most common symptom is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
- A change in the way the breast looks. The skin on the breast may dimple or look like an orange peel. There may be a change in the size or shape of the breast.
- A change in the nipple. It may turn in. The skin around it may look scaly.
- A fluid that comes out of the nipple.
See your doctor right away if you notice any of these changes.
Symptom Signature Of Breast Cancer Individual Symptoms
A total of 2316/2783 of symptomatic women with breast cancer were included in the analysis . Among them, 2543 symptoms were recorded, averaging 1.1 symptoms per woman. A total of 56 distinct presenting symptoms were reported in the study population , in 95 unique phenotypes. Breast lump was the most common symptom, recorded in about four-fifths of all women . The next most commonly reported presenting symptoms were nipple abnormalities , breast pain , and breast skin abnormalities .
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The Average Age In Which Breast Cancer Is Detected As A Lump Is About 61
Women between the ages of 25 and 44 tend to present these kinds of breast symptoms to their GP most commonly, and also women over the age of 65.
Again, the rate of actual breast cancers following GP visits for these common presenting breast symptoms is only about 3%.
For women under 45, these types of symptoms are even less likely to be related to breast cancer. The average age in which a woman presents to her GP with a lump, has actual breast cancer is about 61.
What Is A Normal Breast
No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age. For more information, see the National Cancer Institutes Breast Changes and Conditions.external icon
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Can You Have Breast Cancer With No Visible Symptoms
Yes. Many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer say they didnt notice any symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screenings are so strongly advised.
We recommend women start the conversation about when to have annual screening mammograms at age 40. But depending on your breast cancer risk factors, overall health and personal preferences, you and your doctor can work together to decide whether screenings should begin earlier, later or at different intervals.
What Are The Treatments For Breast Cancer
Treatments for breast cancer include:
- Surgery such as
- A mastectomy, which removes the whole breast
- A lumpectomy to remove the cancer and some normal tissue around it, but not the breast itself
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When Should You Start Breast Cancer Screenings
While its beneficial to be aware of the potential early symptoms of breast cancer, the best way to catch the disease at an early stage is with regular screening.
The most important piece of advice for women is to get your screening mammograms, says , a breast surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC and an assistant professor of clinical surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Medical organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, all have slightly different recommendations for when to start mammograms. Your doctor can help you evaluate risk factors, including personal and family history of the disease, to determine when you should start breast cancer screenings and how often to schedule your visits.
Ultimately, you know your body best: If you think somethings not right, make an appointment with your physician to get checked out.
How To Check Your Breasts
Theres no special way to check your breasts and you do not need any training.
Checking your breasts is as easy as TLC:
- Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
- Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
- Check any new or unusual changes with a GP
Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes.
Get used to checking regularly and be aware of anything thats new or different for you.
Check your whole breast area, including up to your collarbone and armpits.
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What Can I Expect If I Have Breast Cancer
If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your healthcare provider will talk with you in detail about your treatment options. Treatment and recovery will be different for everyone, so they can tell you what to expect in your situation.
Is breast cancer fatal?
People with early-stage breast cancer often manage their condition successfully with treatment. In fact, many people whove received a breast cancer diagnosis go on to live long, fulfilling lives. Late-stage breast cancer is more difficult to treat, however, and can be fatal.
What is the survival rate for breast cancer?
The overall five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 90%. This means that 90% of people diagnosed with the disease are still alive five years later. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer that has spread to nearby areas is 86%, while the five-year survival rate for metastatic breast cancer is 28%. Fortunately, the survival rates for breast cancer are improving as we learn more about the disease and develop new and better approaches to management.
Keep in mind that survival rates are only estimates. They cant predict the success of treatment or tell you how long youll live. If you have specific questions about breast cancer survival rates, talk to your healthcare provider.
What Is Male Breast Cancer
Breast cancer in men is very rare, with less than 1 percent of all breast cancers found in men. The risk increases for older men and those with high estrogen levels, low male-hormone levels or a family history of breast cancer. Increased risk is also associated with those who have been exposed to radiation, heavy drinkers, and those with liver disease or who are obese. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and drugs that target genetic changes in cells that cause cancer.
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Despite initial treatment and success, breast cancer can sometimes come back. This is called recurrence. Recurrence happens when a small number of cells escape the initial treatment.
Symptoms of a recurrence in the same place as the first breast cancer are very similar to symptoms of the first breast cancer. They include:
- a new breast lump
- redness or swelling of the breast
- a new thickening near the mastectomy scar
If breast cancer comes back regionally, it means that the cancer has returned to the lymph nodes or near to the original cancer but not exactly the same place. The symptoms may be slightly different.
Finding A Health Care Provider
If you dont have a health care provider, one of the best ways to find a good one is to get a referral from a trusted family member or friend.
You can also call your local health department or a nearby hospital or clinic. If you have insurance, your insurance company may also have a list of health care providers in your area.
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Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
Pinpointing breast cancer in its earliest stages isnt easy because breast cancer signs and symptoms are different for everyone. Sometimes there is a palpable lump or tenderness. Very often, there is neither. Generally, breast cancer shows no symptoms in the early stage.
However, there are certain changes in the breast that may indicate breast cancer in both men and women.
Whether you are a man or a woman, its important to become familiar with your breasts so you can recognize when changes occur and seek timely treatment. Know the facts and understand your risk factors for the disease, such as genetics and family history, by reviewing these frequently asked questions.
When To Contact A Doctor
People should not panic or be fearful when they notice breast changes. Aging, changes in hormone levels, and other factors can lead to breast changes throughout a persons lifetime.
However, people should be proactive about their health and visit a doctor to determine the cause of any breast symptoms.
Each of the nine changes listed above can warrant a trip to the doctor, especially if these changes do not seem to relate to one of the following:
- the menstrual cycle
- previous illness, such as a breast infection
A doctor can evaluate the symptoms, examine the affected breast or breasts, and recommend further studies if necessary. They may suggest a mammogram, ultrasound, other imaging tests, or bloodwork to rule out infection or other potential causes.
There are a number of other reasons a person may experience breast pain, which include:
- bras that do not fit correctly
- hormonal changes
- Menopause: This can cause breasts to become smaller and lumpy. It can also cause lumps to disappear as the breast tissue becomes less dense and more fatty.
- Menstrual cycle: Breasts may feel swollen, tender, or painful, and lumps can appear. These changes occur before menstruation.
- Pregnancy: Milk glands increase in number and size and so can cause lumps.
- Breastfeeding: This can cause mastitis, which may make the breast feel warm and tender, as well as red and lumpy.
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What Should I Be Looking For
Aside from finding a noticeable lump, breast cancer can have a number of different symptoms.
The NHS suggests seeing your GP if you notice any of the following changes:
- a change in the size, outline or shape of your breast
- a change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling
- a new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side
- nipple discharge that’s not milky
- bleeding from your nipple
- a moist, red area on your nipple that doesn’t heal easily
- any change in nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing differently
- a rash on or around your nipple
- any discomfort or pain in one breast, particularly if it’s a new pain and doesn’t go away
Change In Size Shape Or Feel Of Your Breast
A cancer might cause your breast to look bigger or have a different shape than usual, it might feel different.
Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender just before their period.
It can help to be breast aware. This means getting to know the size, shape and feel of your breasts.
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