Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Symptoms of Breast Cancer and What To Do After Diagnosis

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it’s far more common in women.

Breast cancer is most often associated with having a breast lump. However, your symptoms may vary depending on your specific type of breast cancer. While it’s true that many breast cancer patients have a lump, not all of them will. So it’s important to know the other signs and symptoms. 

Symptoms

In general, the body produces certain warning signs. The most common is the breast lump, which may be located anywhere along your chest wall to under your armpit. You may have nipple bleeding or discharge, as well as related pain. There may be redness and/or swelling in any area of the breast or in one breast and not the other, and your nipple could look flatter or caved in. 

Having some of these symptoms or breast changes doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Many other factors go into a diagnosis, not just outward signs.

The most common sign of breast cancer that you may notice is a painless lump in your breast, potentially indicating a tumor. But at the time of diagnosis, most women don’t have any apparent signs of breast cancer. Instead, its early signs are discovered on an imaging test.

When the tumor is small in the early stages of breast cancer, it’s rarely noticeable to the touch or the naked eye. That’s why mammograms play an important role.

Mammograms use low-dose X-rays to create images of the breast. They may help detect tumors in the breast long before it’s big enough to start causing symptoms and when the cancer is likely to be more easily treatable. Tumors may be as small as the tip of a pencil (1 mm) or as big as a lime (50 mm). Digital mammography is designed to spot tumors on the smaller end of the spectrum, when they can’t yet be seen or felt.

Regular mammograms are the most reliable way to catch breast cancer early, according to the American Cancer Society. But mammograms on their own can’t catch every case of breast cancer, which is why it’s important to pay attention to changes in your breasts, because you know your body best. 

Other common signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include:

  • A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
  • Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
  • A newly inverted nipple
  • Peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
  • Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange

When to see a doctor

For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer (such as in a BRCA gene), and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. Women aged 40 to 44 have the option to start receiving screening mammograms.

If you find a lump or other change in your breast — even if a recent mammogram was normal — make an appointment with your doctor for prompt evaluation. 

Early detection of breast cancer is key when it comes to breast cancer treatment options. If you have concerns with any new changes in your breasts, ask your doctor to review your symptoms and determine whether there’s a need for further evaluation after diagnostic mammogram.

To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.

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