Swelling In Your Breasts
Sometimes breasts get tender and swollen during pregnancy, but if youre not pregnant and find the size of your breasts is changing, it warrants a second look.
The swelling of one or both breasts can be a symptom of breast cancer. Breasts are often not identical to each other, so a variation in size between the two is normal. However, if you notice one of your breasts is looking larger than usual, it could be due to swelling, which could be a sign of something amiss.
A tightness or tingling feeling in the skin, coupled with the change in size, most likely means swelling is present.
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How Were These Materials Developed
This is an early version of the 12 signs visual . The text labels were removed, and participants were asked in an open-answer format to describe what the symptoms were that were being shown. These figures show which symptoms were communicating accurately and to what extent. The open-answer format led to images being adjusted as part of an iterative process that continues today.
Current version of the 12 signs of breast cancer image.
Dr. Corrine Ellsworth-Beaumont is the designer behind the Know Your Lemons® campaign. She developed a design thinking process for understanding and testing solutions for breast cancer communication known as the U.S.E.R. Patient Centered Framework. It is a way of seeing problems from the patients perspective, and bringing patients into the development process. You can read more about this design thinking process here.
71% feel guilty for not doing it more often
44% wish they understood self-exams better
43% of us are the ones to discover a symptom so we need to find a better approach to self-exams. One way we help educate women about self-exam is to explain breast anatomy and what a cancerous lump can feel like by using objects they have already felta lemon seed, soft peas and soft beans:
The similarity between a lemon interior and a breast cross-section is remarkable and useful for teaching breast anatomy.
What Is Breast Cancer
Cells in the body normally divide only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells in a part of the body grow and divide out of control, which creates a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign. If, however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don’t function like the body’s normal cells, the tumor is called malignant .
Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate. Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.
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Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
Pinpointing breast cancer in its earliest stages isnt easy becauseare 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 , by reviewing these frequently asked questions.
Stage Of Breast Cancer
When your breast cancer is diagnosed, the doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread and helps to predict the outlook.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer:
- stage is â the tumour is in situ and theres no evidence of invasion
- stage 1 â the tumour measures less than 2cm and the lymph nodes in the armpit arent affected there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 2 â the tumour measures 2-5cm, the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 3 â the tumour measures 2-5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues, and the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 4 â the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
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Where The Money Goes
Walk the Walk is the largest grant making breast cancer charity in the UK. Being a grant making charity means that everybody taking part in our challenges is raising money for Walk the Walk, we then grant the funds to other charities and organisations throughout the UK, to help them reach our united goals and ambitions of treating breast cancer.
Walk the Walk are dedicated to raising money and awareness for vital breast cancer causes and to encourage women, men and children to start walking as a way of keeping fitter, healthier and as an important part of cancer prevention
Our united aim is that no one should die from breast cancer
Together with the Charitys Trustees, all the proposals and applications received are carefully considered in order to ensure that they meet Walk the Walks policies and ethos. As a charity, we are committed to supporting research into breast cancer for the future health of us all, to help improve the lives of those who have cancer now, and for prevention. We now know that being active and eating well plays a key part in the prevention of breast cancer and other diseases, so we are passionate about encouraging women, men and children to start walking every day as a way of getting fitter and keeping well.
of all the areas where Walk the Walk grants have helped to make a difference.
What To Do If You Spot A Possible Sign Of Breast Cancer
Dont panic. If you notice a change in your breast, it doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Some of these changes may be a result of benign, or non-cancerous, breast conditions, explains Dr. Duncan.
Still, if you notice any change at all, especially one occurring in only one breast, its a good idea to contact your doctor to get treatment started right away, if necessary.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast pain can be a symptom of cancer. If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are
- New lump in the breast or underarm .
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Hormones And Hormone Medicine
Hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. However, the risk is a very low one.
Women who use the contraceptive pill have a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk starts to decrease once you stop taking the pill. Your risk of breast cancer is back to normal 10 years after stopping.
Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
- Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
- Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
- A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
- Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
- Changes in your nipple, like one that:
- Pulls inward
- Develops sores
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How Do You Feel When You First Get Breast Cancer
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Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Early Detection And Prevention
When it comes to cancer, early detection is important, but so is reducing your risk. There are several healthy lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Stay lean after menopause. Keep a healthy weight and a low amount of body fat. Eating a healthy diet can help.
Get active and sit less. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
Avoid alcohol. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man.
Choose to breastfeed. Try to breastfeed exclusively for six months after giving birth, and continue even when other foods are introduced.
Manage hormones naturally. If you are going through menopause and trying to control the symptoms, try non-hormonal methods before turning to hormone replacement therapy.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get regular breast cancer screening exams. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.
What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Like many conditions, risk factors for breast cancer fall into the categories of things you can control and things that you cannot control. Risk factors affect your chances of getting a disease, but having a risk factor does not mean that you are guaranteed to get a certain disease.
Controllable risk factors for breast cancer
- Alcohol consumption. The risk of breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, women who consume two or three alcoholic beverages daily have an approximately 20% higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who do not drink at all.
- Body weight. Being obese is a risk factor for breast cancer. It is important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Breast implants. Having silicone breast implants and resulting scar tissue make it harder to distinguish problems on regular mammograms. It is best to have a few more images to improve the examination. There is also a rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma that is associated with the implants.
- Choosing not to breastfeed. Not breastfeeding can raise the risk.
- Using hormone-based prescriptions. This includes using hormone replacement therapy during menopause for more than five years and taking certain types of birth control pills.
Non-controllable risk factors for breast cancer
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What Does Normal Breast Tissue Feel Like
It is common for normal breast tissue to have a lumpy, nodular texture, and the consistency might differ from woman to woman. Even inside a single womans own body, breast tissue can have a varied consistency at various points in a womans menstrual cycle as well as at other periods throughout a womans lifetime.
Are Lumpy Breasts A Risk For Breast Cancer
Lumpy breasts dont seem to raise a womans risk of breast cancer, though they can make it hard to find a cancer that has developed. And while four out of five breast lumps turn out not to be cancerous, its always good to err on the side of caution and check with a doctor about any breast lump you notice.
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Breast Cancer Signs And Symptoms
Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of breast health. Although having regular screening tests for breast cancer is important, mammograms do not find every breast cancer. This means it’s also important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or round. They can even be painful. For this reason, it’s important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by an experienced health care professional.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast
- Skin dimpling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking or thickened
- Nipple discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes
Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional so the cause can be found.
Remember that knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help find breast cancer early, before any symptoms appear. Finding breast cancer early gives you a better chance of successful treatment.
Nipple Retraction Or Inversion
Breast cancer can cause cell changes behind the nipple. These changes can result in the nipple inverting and reversing inward into the breast, or it may look different in terms of its size.
The appearance of the nipples can often alter during ovulation or other parts of the menstrual cycle, but people should see a doctor about any new nipple changes.
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Metastatic Breast Cancer And Pain
Metastatic breast cancer may also cause pain. It could be from a larger tumorthese are often over 2 centimeters in diameteror pain in other regions of the body due to the spread of cancer. If breast cancer spreads to your bones, it may cause bone pain, or back pain with leg weakness. If cancer spreads to your brain, it may cause headaches.
If breast cancer travels to the adrenal glands, you may feel a dull back pain. If your breast cancer spreads to your liver, you could have pain in the upper right part of your abdomen and develop jaundice .
Breast Discomfort And Pain
Women may feel discomfort and pain as the cancer grows and spreads in the breast. Cancer cells do not cause pain but as they grow they cause pressure or damage to surrounding tissue. A large tumor can grow into or invade the skin and cause painful sores or ulcers. It can also spread into the chest muscles and ribs causing obvious pain.
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Why Are Images Important
Words are usually the way that the public is educated about health messages. However, this is a problem for a few reasons:
Its estimated that 1 in 5 patients have literacy issues , making reading difficult.
Most wordy educational materials are never read .
The information is in one language which is a problem for educating multicultural audiences.
Images can communicate to people of any language, are more engaging and can communicate information in a specific way that words cannot . However, getting the right image can be difficult. And when most health materials are developed without designers, with limited budgets and lack of time, words are the easier way of communicating. In fact, in a review of over 100 breast cancer detection materials and websites, less than 10% of them used educational images at all. Despite this, 89% of patients prefer visual materials to non-graphic material.
What Does A Breast Lump Feel Like
In general, cancerous breast lumps tend to be more irregular in shape. They may also feel firm or solid, and might be fixed to the tissue in the breast. They are also often painless. However, in a small percentage of women, a painful breast lump turns out to be cancer.
Breast cancer lumps can vary in size. Typically, a lump has to be about one centimeter before a person can feel it however, it depends on where the lump arises in the breast, how big the breast is, and how deep the lesion is.
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