What To Do If You Feel Something
If you feel something abnormal during these at-home exams, dont panic. Contact your doctor, but be aware that 8 out of 10 lumps are non-cancerous. And, be familiar with what your breasts typically feel like since many can fluctuate in size and firmness during different menstrual cycle stages. This helps you know note abnormalities more confidently.
Checking for breast abnormalities routinely can save your life by detecting breast cancer early. It takes very little time, has a huge payoff, and can detect cancerous lumps before you reach the age of recommended breast cancer screenings.
How Do I Do A Breast Self
If you choose to do one, follow these steps:
In the mirror:
In the shower:
When To Contact A Doctor
A person should contact a doctor if they experience any symptoms that may indicate breast cancer. Most lumps are not cancerous, but a doctor can help rule this out.
Screening can help detect changes before a lump becomes noticeable. At this stage, breast cancer is easier to treat.
Current guidelines from the American College of Physicians recommend that females speak with a doctor about breast cancer screening from the age of 40 years. They also recommend that females at average risk of breast cancer have a mammogram every 2 years from 5074 years of age.
People with a higher risk, such as those with a family history of breast cancer, may need more regular screening.
It is worth noting that different authorities, such as the
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Who To Talk To About Issues Or Concerns
If you have issues or concerns about your breast cancer, you can talk to:
Most people will be put in contact with a breast care nurse during the early days of diagnosis and treatment. They are there to offer support and information to you and your family. Often they will be able to spend time with you, helping you understand your options and supporting you.
Once treatment has finished, you can usually continue to contact your breast care nurse if you have any worries or concerns, or need ongoing support, even if this is many years after youve been diagnosed.
When Should I Have My Mammogram
The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute recommend that all women start getting mammograms every year at age 40. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says only women between 50 and 65 years of age should have mammograms. The best age to start getting regular mammograms depends on your risk of breast cancer. The risk is different for each woman. Ask your physician what is the best age for you.
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How To Look For Changes
Standing in front of a mirror, a person should look at the overall appearance of the breasts and nipples. Here are some questions to think about while doing so:
- Are they similar in size, shape, and height?
- Is one a different color than the other?
- Are there any visible skin lesions, marks, color changes, or moles?
- Are there any signs of swelling, lumpiness, pitting, or contour changes?
- Are the nipples facing outward or inward?
A person should run through this checklist twice: once with their arms at their sides and once with their arms above their head.
Breasts are rarely identical, but noticing changes can help detect a problem early. Having an idea of the usual size, shape, appearance, and feel of the breasts can help a person be aware of any changes.
How To Perform A Breast Check
Step 1 – Look
Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here’s what you should see:
- Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour
- Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
But if you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:
- Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
- A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple
- Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Step 2 – Raise your arms
Look again at your breasts with your raise your arms above your head and look for the same changes.
Step 3 – Lean forward
Now, lean forward so that there is a pendulum affect in your breasts, look for any dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin.
Step 4 – Fluids?
While you’re at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples .
Step 5 – Feel lying down
Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast.
Use a firm, smooth touch with the first three finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a 2p coin. Check the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
When you’ve reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your rib cage.
Step 6 – Feel standing or sitting
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In Front Of The Mirror
With your chest bare and your arms at your sides, examine your breasts from the front and side, checking for abnormalities or inconsistencies in the tissue you dont recognize. Then, raise your arms above your head, and examine your breasts from the front and side again. Having your arms raised will show you any changes in shape, swelling, the shape of the nipple, or the appearance of dimples.
‘i Noticed What Felt Like A Frozen Pea In My Armpit’
During a routine breast self-exam, I felt a really tiny lump. It didnt hurt, but it was mobile and felt like a frozen pea. It was right inside my armpit, which seemed odd at first, but I remembered that your breast tissue actually extends into your armpit. This didnt feel consistent with the breast changes that came along with my menstrual cycle.
“I actually kept quite calm, even though in my gut, I knew what was going on. So I called my ob-gyn, who offered to take a look during my next annual exam, which was months away. After nothing changed in a week, I called the breast center at my local hospital and demanded to be seen. After imaging and biopsies, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 24.
“From my experience, I hope that other women will learn that you need to monitor changes in your body, but its futile if youre afraid to speak up about them. Women need to have the confidence to speak up.
Brittany Whitman, Cleveland Education Ambassador for Bright Pink
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Benign Breast Conditions Linked To A Moderate Increase In Breast Cancer Risk
Benign breast conditions known as atypical hyperplasias are linked to a moderate increase in the lifetime risk of breast cancer. However, if you are diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in any given year remains low. The actual risk of developing breast cancer over a lifetime depends on other breast cancer risk factors as well as the age you were diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia.
Hyperplasia means that there is excessive growth of breast cells that are also atypical, meaning they have some, but not all, of the features of carcinoma in situ . These cells arent cancer but they arent completely normal either. Sometimes they are also called neoplasias.
Thanks to the increased use of mammography screening, atypical hyperplasias are being diagnosed more often than ever before. An abnormal finding through screening would lead to biopsy and examination of the tissue.
If youre diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, keep in mind that these conditions are not breast cancer. They also dont mean you will develop breast cancer one day. Instead, these conditions suggest a potential for moderate increased risk in both breasts, not just the breast where the cell changes were found. They give you good reason to pay closer attention to your breast health and perhaps work with a breast specialist. However, most women with atypical hyperplasias will never get breast cancer.
There are two main types of atypical hyperplasia:
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on a mammogram. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, itchy breast that is tender to the touch
- The surface of the breast may take on a ridged or pitted appearance, similar to an orange peel
- Heaviness, burning, or aching in one breast
- One breast is visibly larger than the other
- Inverted nipple
- No mass is felt with a breast self-exam
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm and/or above the collarbone
- Symptoms unresolved after a course of antibiotics
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer usually does not cause a distinct lump in the breast. Therefore, a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, or even a mammogram may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Ultrasounds may also miss inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can develop rapidly, and the disease can progress quickly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.
For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, redness, swelling, itchiness and soreness are often signs of a breast infection such as mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or nursing and you develop these symptoms, your doctor should test for inflammatory breast cancer.
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Know What To Look For
I felt a lump, is a common phrase for those who have had a breast cancer diagnosis, but there are many others symptoms or warning signs to watch for:
- a new lump in your breast or underarm
- thickening or swelling of part of your breast
- irritation or dimpling of your breast skin
- redness or flaky skin in your nipple area or your breast
- pulling in of your nipple or pain in your nipple area
- nipple discharge other than breast milk
- any change in the size or the shape of your breast
- pain in any area of your breast
How To Do A Breast Self
Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here’s what you should look for:
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:
|Breast Self-Exam Step 1
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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.
What If The Lump Feels Like A Ridge What If I Have A Pea
You should have a familiarity with your body and what the breast normally feels like, including its normal shape, appearance, and texture. Generally, women are advised to analyze their breasts in the shower with soapy fingers to get a nice feel of the normal tissues. If you do that and have some familiarity with your normal breast tissue, and then find something different, you should reach out to your medical team.
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The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca
At the Breast Cancer Centers at each of our CTCA® hospitals, located across the nation, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision. Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a registered oncology nurse, who helps track the various appointments, follow up on tests and answer questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with advanced training in helping patients restore function and appearance. Fertility preservation and genetic testing are also available for qualifying patients who need them.
Our pathologists and oncologists are experienced and trained in tools designed to diagnose, stage and treat different types of breast cancer, from early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ to complex diseases such as triple-negative and inflammatory breast cancer. As part of our patient-centered care model, which is designed to help you keep strong during treatment, your multidisciplinary care team may recommend various evidence-informed supportive therapies, such as naturopathic support, psychosocial support, nutritional support, physical and occupational therapy and pain management. The entire team works together with a whole-person focus, which is at the heart of our centers dedication to personalized and comprehensive care.
Will I Die Of Breast Cancer
This is a difficult question to answer early in your cancer care but it is still worth asking. Many people just diagnosed with cancer have no idea how much of a risk to their life their unique situation poses. Most breast cancers carry a low risk of recurrence, especially early-stage cancers. The answer is usually reassuring.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men
Possible symptoms of breast cancer to watch for include:
- A lump or swelling, which is often painless
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge from the nipple
Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.
These changes aren’t always caused by cancer, but if you notice any breast changes, you should see a health care professional as soon as possible.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Burstein HJ, Harris JR, Morrow M. Ch. 79 – Malignant tumors of the breast. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’sCancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015.
Morrow M. Chapter 3: Physical Exam of the Breast. In: Harris JR, Lippman ME, Morrow M, Osborne CK, eds. Diseases of the Breast. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health 2014.
Wolff AC, Domchek SM, Davidson NE et al. Ch 91 – Cancer of the Breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloffs Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier: 2014.
Last Revised: April 27, 2018
Always Seek Medical Attention Even During The Coronavirus Pandemic
The key point is that a woman should seek medical attention for any concerning lumps in her breasts, says Harold Burstein, MD, PhD, a breast oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center.
Simple imaging techniques, such as a mammogram or breast ultrasound, can usually provide reassurance that the breast lump is benign. If necessary, a breast MRI or biopsy can be used to evaluate whether the lump is cancerous.
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Can I Rely On Breast Self
Mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt, so screening is key for early detection. But when combined with regular medical care and appropriate guideline-recommended mammography, breast self-exams can help women know what is normal for them so they can report any changes to their healthcare provider.If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but dont panic 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns.