Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder of this disease’s pervasive and life-threatening nature, which affects millions of women. With regular self-examinations, we can detect early symptoms, significantly increasing the likelihood of a successful recovery. That’s why we’ll discuss six key signs and indicators of breast cancer. By raising awareness and sharing knowledge, we empower ourselves and others to take proactive steps towards better breast health.
1. Changes in Breast Texture
One of the earliest signs of breast cancer can be changes in a breast’s texture, such as a noticeable thickening or lump in breast tissue. These changes are often painless and can be detected through self-examination or during routine screenings like mammograms. That’s why women must familiarize themselves with their breasts’ normal texture so any deviations can be promptly identified.
2. Skin Changes on the Breast
Another potential early sign of breast cancer is surface-level skin changes. These changes can include redness, dimpling, or puckering of the skin, sometimes taking on an orange, peel-like appearance. Any unusual alterations in the skin's texture or color should be investigated, as they could indicate an underlying issue.
3. Nipple Abnormalities
Nipple inversion or retraction is another key sign of possible breast cancer. This condition occurs when a nipple begins to pull inward instead of pointing outward as it typically does. Additionally, if you notice any bloody or clear discharge from either nipple, contact your healthcare practitioner immediately and set up a consultation.
4. Breast Pain and Discomfort
While breast pain is all too common, we must differentiate between normal discomfort from a menstrual cycle and persistent, unexplained pain. Although breast pain is rarely the primary symptom of a positive diagnosis, unexplained pain can be an early indication of other symptoms. So, be sure to seek medical advice if you experience persistent breast pain that doesn't correspond with your menstrual cycle.
Additionally, persistent itching, redness, or irritation on or around the breasts can be early signs of an underlying issue like breast cancer. While these symptoms can result from various causes, they shouldn’t be ignored, especially if they last for a while without a clear reason. Regular breast self-exams and consistently looking out for these sensations can help you potentially stop these issues early on.
5. Unexplained Changes in Breast Size
While fluctuations in breast size are normal because of hormonal, pregnancy, or weight changes, unexplained and persistent changes in breast size could be a subtle sign of concern. These changes can sometimes indicate underlying conditions like breast cancer. Regularly monitoring and addressing such variations in size can contribute to early detection and timely intervention, potentially improving treatment outcomes.
6. Lumps in the Underarm Area
Finally, in addition to examining the breast tissue itself, it's essential to pay attention to the surrounding areas, particularly the underarms. Sometimes, breast cancer can spread to the armpit’s lymph nodes, causing noticeable lumps, or swelling. If you discover enlarged lymph nodes in your underarm that aren’t from an infection or injury, your inner alarm should go off.
These swollen lymph nodes can be an early indication of breast cancer's progression, so prompt medical advice is crucial. Monitor these lymph nodes during your routine self-examinations to improve your chances of detecting breast cancer in an early, more manageable stage.
We Understand the Early Signs of Breast Cancer
Knowing and detecting the early signs of breast cancer can be a lifesaver. Familiarizing yourself with the early signs, such as changes in breast texture, skin abnormalities, nipple changes, and breast pain, is crucial for your health. While these symptoms don’t always stem from breast cancer, you must meet with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation. Their recommended screenings and self-exams are proactive steps that can help you detect breast cancer in early and treatable stages.
If you're looking for a key partner in your lifelong medical journey, reach out to our team. We're proud of our providers and their Christ-rooted, family-centric care that has served Northeast Nebraska's medical needs. Set up an appointment today if you're coming up on the time for a new medical appointment.