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What To Feel For Breast Cancer

Place Your Hands On Your Hip

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Strip to the waist and stand before a mirror. You will need to see both breasts at the same time. Stand with your hands on your hips and check the overall appearance of your breasts.

Look at the size, shape, and contour.

Note changes, if any, in the color or texture of the skin on your breasts as well as on your nipples and areolas.

When To See Your Doctor

It’s important to talk to your physician if you have breast pain from any cause. Even if it’s not due to cancer, many women find that breast pain decreases their quality of life. In one study,15% of the women experienced breast pain at some time in their life that interfered with work and family activities. So, make sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any suspicious discomfort.

Symptoms Of Secondary Breast Cancer

Secondary breast cancer means that a cancer that began in the breast has spread to another part of the body. Secondary cancer can also be called advanced or metastatic cancer.

It might not mean that you have secondary breast cancer if you have the symptoms described below. They can be caused by other conditions.

Also Check: Does Having Breast Cancer Hurt

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

Getting A Breast Biopsy

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In a breast biopsy, the doctor takes out small pieces of breast tissue to check them for cancer cells. A biopsy is the only way to tell for sure if you have breast cancer.

There are many types of biopsies. Ask your doctor what kind you will need. Each type has risks and benefits. The choice of which type to use depends on your own case.

Sometimes, surgery is needed to take out all or part of the lump to find out if its cancer. This is often done in a hospital using local anesthesia . You might also be given medicine to make you sleepy.

Also Check: What To Eat After Breast Cancer Surgery

What Does A Breast Cancer Lump Feel Like

Breast cancer often presents itself when a woman notices something out of the ordinary in her breast, a lump that feels different from the feeling of surrounding tissues and structures or a change, something new and different that was not felt before. That is why it is important to know what your breasts normally feel like so that you will notice a difference that persists.

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

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Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Bones

You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread to the bones:

  • an ache or pain in the affected bone
  • breaks in the bones because they are weaker
  • breathlessness, looking pale, bruising and bleeding due to low levels of blood cells – blood cells are made in the bone marrow and can be crowded out by the cancer cells

Sometimes when bones are damaged by advanced cancer, the bones release calcium into the blood. This is called hypercalcaemia and can cause various symptoms such as:

  • tiredness

Breast Cancer Fatigue Before Diagnosis

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How do I tell when I have breast cancer? This has been the question most people ask but they dont have the most appropriate answer. Breast cancer eats slowly into the body which can make it difficult to be identified in the early stages. Breast cancer fatigue before diagnosis is common among the cancer patients and it must be monitored and managed properly.

This can be characterized by low energy in the body and weakness which are rarely experienced by healthy people. Such condition may be treated lightly before cancer diagnosis and can easily be assumed to be the normal sleep. The fatigue may be experienced as a result of breast cancer without the knowledge of an individual or may be caused by the treatment process.

Cancer diagnosis

You dont have to wait for the breast cancer condition to get worse to take the necessary steps for diagnosis and treatment. Today therere better ways for cancer diagnosis which are effective and cost effective in terms of budget. You can totally depend on the related symptoms and fatigue to tell o the cancer condition but a lot more needs to be done.

Across the world, different people have reported extreme fatigue which later turned up to be caused by the breast cancer. You should work closely with your doctor for the right diagnose when you feel extreme levels of fatigue.Impact of the breast cancer fatigue.

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Menutap On Me To See The 12 Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Explained

  • expand_moreHard LumpThe most common sign of breast cancer is a lump, deep in the breast. It often feels hard, like a lemon seed, and usually immovable. It can be any shape or size.A lump is not always easy to feel. If you have access to breast cancer screening, use ita mammogram can detect a lump long before it can be felt.Most lumps turn out to be harmless, such as a fluid filled cyst or a fibroadenoma. But if you notice a hard lump that doesnt come and go with your menstrual cycle, dont ignore it. The sooner breast cancer is found, the more easily it can be treated.
  • expand_moreThick AreaYou may notice that a part of your breast feels different from the rest, being less “squishy” and more “dense.” This can be a normal part of menstruation or breastfeeding. However, a thickening in your breast that doesnt go away or gets worse could also be a sign of breast cancer.The thickening can be in the skin or deeper in the breast. This thickening is caused when cancer cells are blocking circulation in the breast or a tumor is growing near the surface of the skin. This is different from a hard lump, which is formed when cancer cells grow very close together.Note: This is not to be confused with “breast density” which doesn’t refer to how a breast feels. Breast density can only be determined through a mammography report.
  • What Does Breast Cancer Feel Like

    In breast cancer, abnormal genes cause breast cells to grow uncontrollably and not die off as they normally would.

    If these cells grow slowly and do not invade other tissues, they cause benign tumors. These lumps are not usually dangerous to health.

    When abnormal cells grow more rapidly and begin to invade surrounding tissues, they form cancerous tumors. These lumps pose a serious risk and can spread, creating new tumors throughout the body.

    According to, 1 in 8 women in the United States will experience invasive breast cancer over their lifetime. Researchers estimate that in 2018, over 266,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the U.S. Approximately 40,920 women are expected to die of the disease in 2018 in the U.S.

    Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in American women, accounting for about 30 percent of new cancer cases in 2017. Men face a much lower risk, and the lifetime risk in the U.S is around 1 in 1,000.

    Recommended Reading: What Does Stage 1 Breast Cancer Mean

    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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    What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

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    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.

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    Is There A Particular Time Of The Month I Should Do Breast Self

    Women should do a breast self-exam once a month, every month. Women who are still menstruating should perform a breast self-exam after their period. Women who have stopped menstruating and those who have very irregular periods can pick a day each month. Choose a day that is consistent and easy to remember, like the first day of the month, the last day of the month or your favorite number.

    Know What Is Normal For You

    It’s important to know what is normal for you. Your breasts will go through many normal changes during your life. For example, they are affected by changes in your hormones during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breast-feeding and menopause.

    • Your menstrual cycle: Each month, when you are having periods, your breasts often change. They can become bigger, tender and lumpy usually before a period starts and return to normal once the period is over. Some women, however, may have tender, lumpy breasts throughout their cycle.
    • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: The changes that occur during your menstrual cycle continue during pregnancy. While breast-feeding, your breasts may be very enlarged, firm and tender this is normal at this time. However, you should continue to check your breasts and discuss any unusual changes with your GP.
    • Menopause: After the menopause your breasts will feel softer and they may get bigger or smaller. If there is a change in only one breast, you should discuss this with your doctor. HRT hormone replacement therapy may cause your breasts to feel firmer and quite tender.

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    What Do Breast Lumps Feel Like

    The feel of a breast lump depends on its cause, location, and growth. They can vary greatly from painful, hard, and immobile to soft, painless, and easily moveable.

    According to, lumps are most likely to be cancerous if they do not cause pain, are hard, unevenly shaped, and immobile.

    Fibroadenoma lumps tend to be painless, easily movable, smooth, rounded and can disappear on their own. Breast cysts are smooth but firm. Breast abscesses and mastitis usually cause painful, swollen lumps, and are often accompanied by a fever and or redness around the affected skin.

    Most early breast cancers are diagnosed on screening mammograms before a lump can be felt. Mammograms are an effective method for detecting breast cancer. However, mammograms do not detect breast cancer 100 percent of the time.

    The most difficult part of early detection is that changes and symptoms might or might not occur. That is why regular screening is so important.

    What Should I Do If I Find A Lump

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    Donât panic. It could be many things other than cancer. But do check in with your doctorâs office if you notice any new breast changes, such as:

    • An area that is different from any other area on either breast
    • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that lasts through your menstrual cycle
    • A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
    • A mass or lump
    • A marble-like area under the skin
    • A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple
    • Bloody or clear fluid discharge from the nipples
    • Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple

    Also Check: What Kind Of Doctor Do You See For Breast Cancer

    Other Conditions That Cause Breast Lumps

    According to the British National Health Service, the vast majority of breast lumps are noncancerous. While some can be painful and cause breast changes, benign lumps are not considered to be life-threatening. They may require treatment or surgery, however.

    Benign breast lump conditions include:

    • fibroadenomas
    • complex lesions or scars from past breast biopsies

    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.

    Also Check: How Common Is Breast Cancer In Teens

    S To Conduct A Breast Self

    1. Stand in front of a reasonable size mirror. Put your hands on the waist and examine your breasts in mirror. Look for areas of dimpling, puckering or bulging of skin. Also, watch out for an area of redness, soreness, rash or swelling.

    2. Now raise your arms over your head. Look for the same changes as mentioned above.

    3. Keeping your arms still over your head, look for any signs of discharge or fluid coming out of one or both nipples.

    4. Now lie down on your back. Use your right hand to feel your left breast. Complete an outer circle. Then move in one inch towards the nipple and complete another circle. Keep repeating till you reach the nipple. You’re looking for the lump. Keep repeating the same for the other breast.

    5. There are other patterns to examine your breast. These include vertical parallel strips from midline of body, outwards. Alternatively wedge shaped area from nipple, outwards to the periphery of breast can be examined. Finally breast can be examined in an outward spiral manner from nipple to the outer edge of the breast. The intent is to cover all the portions of the breast and avoid missing any segment.

    6. It is advisable to use finger pads with massage oil or shower gel, so that the finger pads glide easily over the breast.

    7. Alternatively, try in the shower. It’s easier when the skin is wet and slippery. Cover the same hand movements described in step 4 and 5.

    How Breast Cancer Pain May Feel

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    If breast cancer is the cause of breast pain, it will often be present in only one breast, whereas benign breast pain is often on both sides.

    Breast cancer pain can be persistent and very specific, usually hurting in just one spot. But, breast cancer can be present in your breast before it causes pain. If you have other symptoms of breast cancer, such as nipple retraction, sudden swelling of your breast, or sudden skin changes, consult your doctor for a clinical breast exam.

    Read Also: Can Breast Cancer Hurt Your Shoulder

    Research On Breast Exam Standards: Learning What To Feel For

    A team of scientists and physicians at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill identified the most effective method for teaching women how to do breast self-exam, in a study called How Best to Teach Women Breast Self-Examination: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Women were randomly assigned into three groups to learn how to learn to do breast self-examination using three different techniques. The first group of women was taught tactile BSE skills using Mammacares standardized breast simulations . The second group of women was taught BSE using traditional printed materiala pamphlet. The third group of women was encouraged to perform BSE without any instruction.

    The study reported:

    Mammacare instruction resulted in more long-term improved lump detection and examination technique use than did traditional instruction or physician encouragement.

    About the Author

    Mark Goldstein, Ph.D., was a member of the scientific team on the National Cancer Institute research project that validated the procedures for effective physical examination of the breast. He is a Senior Scientist at the MammaCare Foundation and has devoted his scientific career to advancing the early detection of breast cancer.


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