The Importance Of The Breast Self
To recognize many of the signs of breast cancer mentioned, Dr. Yoga points out that you first have to know what’s normal for you.
“This is why breast self-exams are important,” says Dr. Yoga. “It’s a time to examine your breasts and notice what looks and feels normal for you.”
She adds that this is increasingly important as more and more young women are being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“For most women, screening mammogram is recommended at age 40, but we’re seeing more women in their 30s being diagnosed with breast cancer particularly in the African-American community,” says Dr. Yoga.
Before age 40, even if you’re not yet eligible for a screening mammogram, a diagnostic mammogram can be done if a clinical finding is uncovered. This means it’s still important to do breast self-exams now and then and consult your doctor if something feels off.
“As mentioned, fibrocystic changes can come and go with your menstrual cycle as well as other factors,” says Dr. Yoga. “But if you feel a mass and it’s persistent, you need to be evaluated, even if it’s not yet time for you to have a screening mammogram.”
She adds that diagnostic mammogram and breast ultrasound are always options for a woman who feels a lump or is showing other signs of breast cancer.
What To Do If You Spot Symptoms
Anyone who notices a change in their breast that develops without a clear cause should see a doctor, especially if the changes affect only one breast. In many cases, routine screening will reveal any significant changes.
Breast cancer is highly treatable if diagnosis occurs in the early stages. Regular screening can help with this.
As of April 2019, the ACP make for screening for women with an average risk of breast cancer and other guidelines for those with a higher risk.
For those with an average risk:
Women ages 40â49 should ask their doctor about whether they should start having a routine mammogram.
Women aged 50â74 who have an average risk should have a mammogram every 2 years.
Women with an average risk should stop screening when they reach 75 years of age, or if they expect to live another 10 years or fewer.
Women of all ages with an average risk should not undergo clinical breast examination to screen for breast cancer.
Other organizations, such as the
It is helpful for people to be aware of how their breasts feel so that they can get used to any regular changes that occur. If they notice anything unusual, they should see their doctor.
At their visit, the doctor may use one of the following methods:
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.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer:
- stage 1 the tumour measures less than 2cm, the lymph nodes in the armpit aren’t affected, and there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 2 the tumour measures 2 to 5cm or the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both, and there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 3 the tumour measures 2 to 5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues, the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected but there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 4 the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
This is a simplified guide. Each stage is divided into further categories: A, B and C. If you’re not sure what stage you have, ask your doctor.
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Symptoms Specific To Invasive And Non
Breast cancer is a complex condition for more information, please refer to our breast cancer page.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is a specific type of carcinoma in which the cells that line your milk ducts have become cancerous, but the abnormal cells have not spread into the nearby breast tissue. Because the cancer cells have not invaded nearby tissue, doctors consider DCIS to be non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer.
Symptoms of breast tumors can vary from one person to the next, and vary from one type of breast cancer to the next, but some of the most common early signs of breast cancer can include:
- Swelling, redness, or other visible skin changes occurring in just one breast or both breasts
- A change in the shape of one or both of your breasts, or an increase in size
- Discharge other than milk from your nipple
- Changes in the appearance of one or both of your nipples
- General pain in any area of your breast
- Lumps or bumps that you can feel on or deep inside the breast
In another type of breast cancer, known as lobular carcinoma in situ , abnormal cells form in the glands that produce milk. While LCIS involves the development of abnormal cells in the breast, it is not a type of cancer a diagnosis of LCIS does mean you have an increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
What Does A Lump In Your Breast Feel Like
What does a breast lump feel like? Breast tissue in and of itself can feel somewhat lumpy and sponge-like, so it can be hard to know if what youre feeling is an actual lump or just normal breast tissue. A breast lump will feel like a distinct mass thats noticeably more solid than the rest of your breast tissue.
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Finding Support When Living With Breast Cancer
Learning you have breast cancer can be overwhelming, but youre not alone. You might find it helpful to connect with others who have been through the same thing or are going through it right now.
Your oncologist or treatment center can probably point you toward local resources. There are many types of support groups, so it may take a little time to find one thats a good fit. Here are a few organizations to get you started on your search.
What Are The Signs That Breast Cancer Has Spread
Metastatic breast cancer is a secondary cancer the cancerous cells originate in breast tissue and then travel to other parts of the body. The most common areas of breast cancer metastasis are the bones, lungs and liver.
Following an initial breast cancer diagnosis, a patient will receive a personalized monitoring plan for metastatic reoccurrence from their care team. Depending on the specific parts of the body affected, the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can vary.
Sudden Changes In The Size Of One Breast
“If one breast is starting to look smaller than the other or like it’s getting firmer, tighter and sitting higher than before, it could be a sign that cancer is growing diffusely through the breast,” explains Dr. Yoga. “Similar to how a breast mass growing under the skin causes a dimple or divot, diffuse growth pulls the entire skin of the breast inward.”
The opposite is also true. If one breast has become larger, heavier or fuller than the other, it can also be concerning.
“If a diffuse cancer is growing and blocks the lymphatics of the breast, lymph cannot drain and this fluid can build up and cause enlargement of the breast,” says Dr. Yoga.
In most women, one breast is almost always slightly larger than the other. This is natural and common.
But a sudden, persistent enlargement of one breast especially if you haven’t recently gained weight and you’re not pregnant may be a sign of breast cancer.
When Should I See My Doctor
See your doctor or healthcare professional if you notice symptoms of possible breast cancer, such as a lump, pain, itch, nipple discharge or dimpling, or if you have any concerns about your breast cancer risk.
Your doctor or healthcare professional will assess you and work out if you need further tests. If required, they can refer you to a local service and provide necessary follow-up care.
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Beyond The Lump: Lesser Known Breast Cancer Warning Signs
The more familiar you become with your breasts, the more likely youll be to notice changes. While lumps sometimes form deep within breast tissue , other breast cancer red flags occur on the surface of the breast. Theyre easily detectable if you know what to look for. Here are six symptoms to watch for. If you detect one or more, you should be evaluated as soon as possible by a qualified physician.
Who Provides Breast Cancer Treatment
A medical team may involve several different health professionals. It may include a GP, a radiologist, an oncologist, a breast care nurse, a surgeon and other allied health professionals such as counsellors and therapists. Having a multi-disciplinary team means a patient can receive the best care possible.
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Peeling Scaling Or Flaking Skin
Dont immediately be alarmed if you notice peeling, scaling, or flaking on your breasts or the skin around your nipples. This is a symptom of breast cancer, but it can also be a symptom of atopic dermatitis, eczema, or another skin condition.
After an exam, your doctor may run tests to rule out Pagets disease, which is a type of breast cancer affecting the nipples. It can also cause these symptoms.
Further Tests For Breast Cancer
If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.
If your cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you’ll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.
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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.
What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean
Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.
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You Have Sore On Your Breast That Wont Heal
Whether its on your breast or on your nipple, a sore that wont seem to heal is something to pay close attention to. It may be a sign of Pagets disease of the breast, a rare form of breast cancer, says Alvarez. This disease originates in the nipple. Its not usually invasive and is most commonly diagnosed in patients in their 70s and 80s. And for warning signals of other types of serious conditions, check out These Are All of the Cancer Warning Signs Hiding in Plain Sight.
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.
Types Of Breast Cancer
There are two categories that reflect the nature of breast cancer:
- Noninvasive cancer is cancer that hasnt spread from the original tissue. This is referred to as stage 0.
- Invasive cancer is cancer thats spread to surrounding tissues. These are categorized as stages 1, 2, 3, or 4, depending on how far it has spread.
The tissue affected determines the type of cancer. For example:
- Ductal carcinoma.Ductal carcinoma is a cancer that forms in the lining of the milk ducts. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
- Lobular carcinoma.Lobular carcinoma is cancer in the lobules of the breast. The lobules are where milk is produced.
- Sarcoma. This is cancer that starts in the breasts connective tissue.
- Angiosarcoma. This type starts in cells that line blood vessels or lymph vessels.
Breast cancer can also be categorized based on certain features, although early signs and symptoms are similar. Among them are.
Some types of breast cancer are more likely to present with symptoms other than a breast lump. For example:
How To Check Your Breasts For Early Signs Of Cancer
Knowing the symptoms is just one part of the prevention puzzle. You should also examine your breasts frequentlyand just be really aware of what normal looks and feels like for your own body. Here are some expert-backed tips to help you get started.
That normal were talking about has a name, Dr. Gary says: Think of it as breast self-awareness. It involves knowing the ins and outs of your breasts both before and during your period, a time when your hormones are in flux. It also means becoming familiar with asymmetry that might be normal for you, such as breast size differences or nipple placement. I tell my patients their breasts are twins but seldom identical, Dr. Gary says.
Dr. Flanagan recommends looking at your breasts in the mirror and knowing what they look and feel like. Its best to do it when your breasts are not tender or swollen, so make sure you wait a few days after your period. Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides, and again, with your arms raised high over your head. Look for any changes, she says, like the ones mentioned above. Experts no longer recommend doing routine structured self-exams , but rather stress this type of self-awareness so you can get in touch with your doctor if you notice anything that differs from your usual.
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