How To Do A Self
Breast self-examinations are not always needed in people who undergo regular mammogram screenings. They are also not recommended as a replacement for routine breast cancer screenings at a healthcare provider’s office as most breast cancer cases are found through screenings instead of self-examination.
Though rare, self-examination can sometimes detect cancerous lumps and, therefore, performing at-home screenings can’t hurt. If you opt to use self-exams along with other screenings, you should perform them once a month, roughly three to five days following the start of your menstrual period. To perform an exam, you will:
- Lie on your back.
- Place your right hand behind your head and firmly but gently press down on your right breast using the three middle fingers of your left hand.
- Gently massage and feel around the breast for any lumps or changes. You can do this in a circular motion, up and down, and inward, toward the nipple.
- Once complete, sit or stand and use the same motion to examine your armpit.
- Squeeze your nipple gently to check for discharge.
- Repeat on the other breast.
A second part of the self-examination process is performed standing in front of a mirror. Standing with your arms by your sides, you can look for any changes to the texture and shape of your breasts or whether your nipple is turned inward instead of outward. Texture signs to look out for are dimples or indents that may resemble an orange peel.
Lift your arms and repeat the visual examination.
Money And Financial Support
If you have to reduce or stop work because of your cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.
If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:
- if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance
- you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income
Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.
You Cant Stop Itching Your Nipples
Sometimes the girls just need a good scratch, especially if youre wearing a bra edged with lace or sequins. But if your nips are constantly itchy theres a good possibility something else is up and you need to get them checked, Dr. Patt says.
Many things can cause itchy nipples, including a yeast infection or other infection, allergies, and irritation from clothing. But there is a rare type of breast cancer that can cause a dry, red, itchy rash to appear on or around your nipples, similar to the type you get with eczema, she explains.
Regardless of the cause, an itchy rash is one symptom you should always have your doctor take a look at, particularly if it doesnt go away after a week or two.
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You’ve Got Painful Swelling
Swollen and painful breasts are, well, a pain, and while they’re mainly due to hormonal changes , they can be linked to breast cancer.
It’s all about the size and placement of the tumor, says Dr. Patt, which can be responsible for a change in the size or shape of your breast, or cause of painful swelling. While the vast majority of women who report breast pain do not have cancer, if breast pain and swelling aren’t linked to your menstrual cycle, you’re not breastfeeding, and it appears suddenly or doesn’t go away, give your doctor a call because whatever is happening needs to be addressed, adds Dr. Patt.
Youve Got Painful Swelling
Swollen and painful breasts are, well, a pain, and while theyre mainly due to hormonal changes , they can be linked to breast cancer.
Its all about the size and placement of the tumor, says Dr. Patt, which can be responsible for a change in the size or shape of your breast, or cause of painful swelling. While the vast majority of women who report breast pain do not have cancer, if breast pain and swelling arent linked to your menstrual cycle, youre not breastfeeding, and it appears suddenly or doesnt go away, give your doctor a call because whatever is happening needs to be addressed, adds Dr. Patt.
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When To See Your Healthcare Provider
Early detection is vital to ensuring that breast cancer doesnt spread and can be treated effectively.
Since it is one of the leading causes of death in women, any abnormal changes to your breasts or lumps you find either during self-examination should be investigated by your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Also, any nonspecific symptoms should prompt a visit to your healthcare provider because a small number of breast cancers present without lumps at first.
Breast Cancer Signs And Symptoms
Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of your 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 know what your breasts normally look and feel like, so youll be aware of any changes in your breasts.
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 also soft, round, tender, or even painful.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking, or thickened
- Nipple discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or near the collar bone
Many of these symptoms can also be caused by benign breast conditions. Still, its important to have any new breast mass, lump, or other change checked by an experienced health care professional so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Remember that knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular screening for breast cancer.Screening mammography can often help find breast cancer early, before any symptoms appear. Finding breast cancer early gives you a better chance of successful treatment.
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How Early Can Ibc Be Diagnosed
Because of IBCs quick-growing and aggressive nature, combined with its tendency to be misdiagnosed, its commonly diagnosed at an advanced stage.
- IBC tends to grow in layers, which is why it can be missed during exams.
- On imaging, these sheets of tissue can resemble nests.
- Your doctor may be able to feel these areas of thickening on your skin, as well as possibly see areas of higher density on a mammogram.
- Routine blood tests may not pick up abnormalities related to inflammatory breast cancer.
You Have A Zit That Wont Heal
Didnt know that you can get zits on your breasts? Its true. Its not uncommon to get small sores, including pimples and even warts, on your breasts or nipples, Dr. Ross says. For women who work out, you may find them in places you sweat heavily, like between your breasts, or along the line of your sports bra where sweat can get trapped and clog your pores.
Most zits will go away on their own with time and good hygiene. But if youve got a small sore of any type that doesnt go away after a week or two, its worth it to get it checked out. Having sores or bruises that wont heal can be an early sign of cancer, she explains.
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How Are Cysts Diagnosed And Treated
Your healthcare provider may find a cyst during a physical exam. He or she may confirm the diagnosis with a mammogram or ultrasound. You may also have a fine-needle aspiration. This involves guiding a very fine needle into the cyst and drawing fluid from it . This also serves as the treatment for this condition. Once the fluid is aspirated, the cyst collapses and disappears. But, cysts can reappear later, in which case they are simply drained again. Cysts are seldom cancerous .
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Signs and symptoms often appear when the tumour grows large enough to be felt as a lump in the breast or when the cancer spreads to surrounding tissues and organs. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as breast cancer.
The most common symptom of ductal carcinoma is a firm or hard lump that feels very different from the rest of the breast. It may feel like it is attached to the skin or the surrounding breast tissue. The lump doesnt get smaller or come and go with your period. It may be tender, but its usually not painful. .
Lobular carcinoma often does not form a lump. It feels more like the tissue in the breast is getting thicker or harder.
Other symptoms of ductal and lobular breast cancer include:
- a lump in the armpit
- changes in the shape or size of the breast
- changes to the nipple, such as a nipple that suddenly starts to point inward
- discharge that comes out of the nipple without squeezing it or that has blood in it
Late signs and symptoms occur as the cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body, including other organs. Late symptoms of breast cancer include:
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What Causes Breast Cancer
Breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in your breast divide and multiply. But experts dont know exactly what causes this process to begin in the first place.
However, research indicates that are several risk factors that may increase your chances of developing breast cancer. These include:
- Age. Being 55 or older increases your risk for breast cancer.
- Sex. Women are much more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
- Family history and genetics. If you have parents, siblings, children or other close relatives whove been diagnosed with breast cancer, youre more likely to develop the disease at some point in your life. About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are due to single abnormal genes that are passed down from parents to children, and that can be discovered by genetic testing.
- Smoking. Tobacco use has been linked to many different types of cancer, including breast cancer.
- Alcohol use. Research indicates that drinking alcohol can increase your risk for certain types of breast cancer.
- Obesity. Having obesity can increase your risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence.
- Radiation exposure. If youve had prior radiation therapy especially to your head, neck or chest youre more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy. People who use hormone replacement therapy have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Your Nipple Flattens Or Sinks In
Women might also notice that one of their nipples is inverted or pulled in. This can happen when the tumor is just behind the nipple, Isaacs says. It can also occur in other areas of the breast and can make it look as if it has dimples. Other conditions that cause nipple inversion include Pagets disease and a breast infection.
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How Are Fibroadenomas Diagnosed And Treated
Your healthcare provider may diagnose this type of lump simply by feeling it. But, he or she will want to confirm the diagnosis with a mammogram or ultrasound and fine-needle aspiration. Sometimes, in very young women, the fibroadenoma is not removed. However, since sometimes these tumors enlarge with pregnancy and breastfeeding, your provider may suggest having it surgically removed.
While most fibroadenomas do not lead to cancer, there is a type of fibroadenoma that has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, particularly in women with a family history of the disease.
What Are The Survival Rates For Ibc
IBC is a fast-growing and aggressive cancer. However, many factors may influence your outcome from IBC:
- The location, stage and whether or not the cancer has spread all can affect how you respond to treatment.
- Age and overall health also play a role.
While its true that this type of cancer has a lower survival rate than other forms of breast cancer, its important to remember that your situation is unique, and statistics are generated from previous patients and past treatments.
With localized IBC, meaning it hasnt spread to other organs, the five-year survival rate is about 39 percent. However, statistics on survival depend on several factors, including the cancers stage and the type of treatment you have. For instance, if cancer has spread to other organs in the body, the survival rate is about 18 percent. But if the cancer has spread to only nearby lymph nodes, the survival rate averages about 52 percent.
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Other Physical Changes Can Also Be Signs
Patients present with weight loss, shortness of breath, pain in the abdomen and more when the breast cancer is in late stages, Singh noted.
In this case, it can be hard to pin these symptoms down as signs of breast cancer. Singh added that its always important to alert your health care team to any changes in your general health.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer may help save your life. When the disease is discovered early, there are more treatment options and a better chance for a cure.
Most painful breast lumps are not cancerous. Any discrete breast lump whether painful or not should be evaluated because breast cancer often presents as a lump or thickening.
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How Can I Be Sure That My Cancer Will Be Detected Before It Has Spread
While you cant prevent breast cancer altogether, there are certain things you can do to reduce your risk of discovering it at an advanced stage. For example:
- Get routine mammograms. The American Cancer Society recommends having a baseline mammogram at age 35, and a screening mammogram every year after age 40.
- Examine your breasts every month after age 20. Youll become familiar with the contours and feel of your breasts and will be more alert to changes.
- Have your breasts examined by a healthcare provider at least once every three years after age 20, and every year after age 40. Clinical breast exams can detect lumps that mammograms may not find.
What Are The Breast Cancer Stages
Staging helps describe how much cancer is in your body. Its determined by several factors, including the size and location of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread to other areas of your body. The basic breast cancer stages are:
- Stage 0. The disease is non-invasive. This means it hasnt broken out of your breast ducts.
- Stage I. The cancer cells have spread to the nearby breast tissue.
- Stage II. The tumor is either smaller than 2 centimeters across and has spread to underarm lymph nodes or larger than 5 centimeters across but hasnt spread to underarm lymph nodes. Tumors at this stage can measure anywhere between 2 to 5 centimeters across, and may or may not affect the nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage III. At this stage, the cancer has spread beyond the point of origin. It may have invaded nearby tissue and lymph nodes, but it hasnt spread to distant organs. Stage III is usually referred to as locally advanced breast cancer.
- Stage IV. The cancer has spread to areas away from your breast, such as your bones, liver, lungs or brain. Stage IV breast cancer is also called metastatic breast cancer.
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What Are Some Common Types Of Benign Breast Lumps
There are many possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps. Two of the most common causes of benign single breast lumps are cysts and fibroadenomas. In addition, several other conditions can present themselves as lumps, such as fat necrosis and sclerosing adenosis. Only your healthcare provider can diagnose your breast lump.
Lobular Carcinoma In Situ
Lobular carcinoma in situ refers to an area of abnormal cells confined to the breasts milk-producing glands.
Because these cells do not spread to surrounding tissues, doctors do not lobular carcinoma situ to be cancer. However, it can increase the chances of developing other types of invasive breast cancer.
This condition rarely causes symptoms. Doctors lobular carcinoma in situ during a breast biopsy for another problem in the breast area. In some cases, tiny white specs of calcium called microcalcifications appear on a routine mammogram.
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How Is Ibc Different From Other Types Of Breast Cancer
Unlike with other types of breast cancers, only 15 percent of people diagnosed with IBC have a lump. Thats why it can be mistaken for breast infections or injuries because of the redness and swelling it causes. While its possible to detect IBC on a mammogram, the imaging device may not recognize evidence of disease because the cancer forms in layers.
More women than men are affected by IBC, and it tends to be seen in younger women than other breast cancers. Black women are also at a slightly higher risk of the disease than white women, and being overweight or obese is also known risk factor for IBC.