Did you know that in American women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer?
Did you know that one in eight women in the US (which accounts for 13%) develops breast cancer in her life?
Did you know that the death rate of breast cancer is higher than any other type of cancer, except lung cancer?
Even then, most women ignore the early warning signs of breast cancer and approach a doctor only when they spot a lump in their breast. Although a breast lump is the most common sign, the symptoms vary as per the specific kind of breast cancer. It is not uncommon for a breast cancer patient to not have a lump (inflammatory breast cancer).
The treatment options and their success rate largely depend on early detection. Therefore, every woman needs to be aware of all the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
Here are some early symptoms of cancer you should be aware of.
Early warning signs of breast cancer
- A lump in the breast or underarm
If you can feel a lump in your breast or your underarm that does not go away, it could be a symptom of breast cancer. A lump, more often than not, is the first symptom.
A hard lump with irregular edges is most probably cancerous.
- Swelling in the armpit or near the collarbone
Swelling in armpits or near the collarbone appears when cancer has spread to the adjacent lymph nodes. You may witness swelling even before feeling the lump. Visit a doctor immediately if you find swelling in these areas, irrespective of whether there is a lump or not.
- Pain and tenderness
In most cases, the lump does not cause any pain. However, in some cases, it can lead to a prickly feeling.
- Changes in breast
If you find any change in the size, shape, contour, texture, or temperature of the breasts, it could be due to cancer.
- An indented or flat area on the breast
Any indentation or flat area on your breast could be due to cancer that you cannot see or feel.
- Changes in nipples
Any changes in the looks of your nipples, such as a nipple pulled inwards, dimpled, sores, burns, or itch, hint towards the presence of breast cancer.
- Discharge from nipples
Any unusual discharge from nipples, be it clear, bloody, or of any other color (brown or yellow), could be a symptom of cancer.
- Marble-like area under the skin
If you find a particular area that looks or feels different from the rest of the part of your breasts, rush to a doctor.
Apart from these, some other signs (that appear later) include,
- The existing lump getting bigger
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss (unintentional)
- Visible veins on your breast
- Enlarged lymph nodes in your armpit
The presence of one or more of these symptoms could be due to other underlying causes, such as infection. However, in any case, it is necessary to visit a doctor for a complete examination to diagnose the problem.
The bottom line
The treatment of breast cancer largely depends on its early diagnosis. If detected in the early stages, the doctors get a chance to use varied treatment options, and the success rate is also high. Hence, women shouldn’t be ignorant of any changes in their bodies.
Organizations like The Chrysalis Initiative are already educating women about these changes. We hope this information will also help you detect any abnormality early and seek the correct treatment for breast cancer.