In 2017, over 250,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Early detection is key when it comes to prognosis. A monthly self-breast exam should be completed at home. Paying close attention to any breast changes or abnormalities and calling your doctor if you have any concerns is encouraged.
The following 10 signs could mean that you have breast cancer. If you notice any one of the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately.
1. Finding A Lump
Breasts are filled with tissue that can feel very lumpy. If both of your breasts feel the same, you are likely feeling normal tissue. Breasts are like lumpy mashed potatoes; finding a pea amongst those potatoes, that’s when you want to consult a physician. A concerning lump will be hard and immovable. As a precaution, all lumps should be checked out by a doctor.
2. Nipple Discharge
While nipple discharge may be alarming (especially if you are not pregnant), there are only a few different types that are associated with breast cancer. If you have discharge that occurs without squeezing the nipple, is bloody, or only occurs in one breast, you should call your doctor.
Other nipple changes are also cause for alarm.
3. Nipple Tenderness Or Breast Pain
If you have unexplained nipple tenderness (sometimes breasts become more sensitive and even painful during a woman’s menstrual cycle), it is a good idea to seek a professional opinion. In addition new pain in the breast that you haven’t felt before, it’s important to notify your health care provider as soon as possible.
4. Breast Swelling, Warmth, Or Redness
If you are not pregnant and you notice that one of your breasts is changing in size, that could be a sign of breast cancer. Also, any unexplained warmth or redness, especially in one particular area, is also cause for concern. If any of these things are happening in one breast and not the other, you will need to see a doctor.
5. Dimpling Or Puckering Of The Skin
If you notice dimpling or puckering of the skin on your breast or if your breast starts “pulling inward” in one particular area, these can be warning signs that something is going on. Often times, these symptoms don’t turn out to be cancer, but something else could be going on.
6. Other Skin Changes
The skin on the breast can sometimes change when breast cancer is present. Some people notice that their skin texture changes or they notice enlarged pores around the nipple. This is often compared to the skin of an orange peel. If you notice that the skin on your breast has changed, it’s time to call your doctor.
7. Unexplained Shrinkage
Just as an enlarged breast is cause for concern, shrinkage should also be alarming. If one of your breasts appears suddenly smaller, this could be a sign that breast cancer is present. Any kind of noticeable asymmetry of the breasts that occurred recently should be brought up with your doctor.
8. Nipple Inversion
Any and all nipple changes are worth a trip to the doctor. If one nipple appears as though it’s turn inward or even inverted, it could mean that there is a tumor present. A mammogram might be necessary so that a radiologist can see inside the breast to find out if there are any abnormalities.
9. An Itchy Nipple Rash
If a rash develops on one of your nipples, it’s important to get that checked out. If the rash comes on suddently, is itchy, flaky, red in color, and warm to the touch, you should call your doctor immediately.
This next sign isn’t one that many women consider when doing their monthly breast exams.
10. Abnormal Growing Vein
A vein growing anywhere on your breast that is very prominent could be a sign of breast cancer. If you notice a vein that seems to be extremely visible or that looks like it wasn’t there before, this breast change should be discussed with your physician at your earliest convenience.