One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. That makes breast cancer the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, and it means that you or someone you are close to will quite likely battle the disease.
Every October we are reminded about the importance of doing self-exams and scheduling regular mammograms. And they are both really so important. In its earliest stages, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms at all, so a mammogram can be the only option for early detection. Mammograms are also particularly important for women who have others in their families diagnosed with breast cancer.
On the other hand, many women do detect breast cancer themselves. As I mentioned in a recent post, one of those people is a friend of mine who recently found a lump just a few months after her annual mammogram. Her story and the thousands of others like it are why it is absolutely vital to check your breasts regularly.
Breast cancer and personal breast exams can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but it is an important one. The more familiar you are with how your body typically looks and feels, the more likely it is that you will notice if something changes.
Early detection, or as early as possible, is vital. Remember that one in eight? Each year it is estimated that more than 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die. Generally, the earlier breast cancer is found, the better chances for survival. My friend who found her cancer will surely live a much longer life than if that lump had not been detected by her so quickly.
It is also crucial to know that there are other warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer you can look for beyond checking for a lump in the breast. While they may be symptoms of breast cancer, they may occur for other reasons as well. I typically take a “better safe than sorry” approach, where I would rather hear from my doctor that a symptom turns out to be nothing than to ignore something, which could turn out to be serious.
Know the warning signs for breast cancer 1 of 9
Lumps beyond the breast. 2 of 9
It is essential to not just do a self-exam on your breasts. Feel around in the underarm, up above the breast toward the collarbone, and to the side of your breast toward your back. Lumps that feel hard or different from the other side should be checked. Though it could be a sign of a benign condition, it could also be a symptom of breast cancer.
Swelling in part of the breast. 3 of 9
Any swelling is cause for concern, but it does not mean that you have breast cancer. Swelling, particularly when it is accompanied by a sensation of warmth or occurs in just part of the breast, should be checked by your doctor.
Irritation on the breast skin. 4 of 9
Although we often check underneath the skin's surface, we should be aware of changes on the skin's surface too. Keep an eye out for changes on your breast's skin, such as dimpling, rashes or puckering.
Irritation on the skin of the nipple area. 5 of 9
Looking for changes on the skin's surface goes for the nipple too. Breast cancer can cause a rash on the surface of the nipple, similar to one that may be caused by breastfeeding. A cause for concern may be redness or rashiness when you are not breastfeeding.
Structural changes to the nipple. 6 of 9
If the shape or structure of the nipple begins to change or if you begin to experience pain in this area, it may be a potential symptom of breast cancer. These changes include inverting or becoming flatter, which may also cause a painful sensation.
Unusual discharge. 7 of 9
Nipple discharge can be a sign of other medical issues, but it can also be a potential symptom of breast cancer. If you are leaking from your nipple, call your doctor, especially if it happens without squeezing the area, in only one breast, or appears bloody or clear.
Changes to the breast size or shape. 8 of 9
As breast cancer grows, it can cause changes in how the breast looks or feels. It is extremely important to contact your doctor if you notice an atypical change in the size or shape of your breast.
Pain in the breast or back. 9 of 9
Typically (though not in all cases) breast cancer does not cause pain until it has progressed. If you experience unusual pain in your breast or in your back between your shoulder blades, consider making an appointment to see your doctor. Though pain could be a sign of another issue, isn't it worth ruling out?
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.
Jessica also recently wrote:
Can Melatonin Help You Lose Weight?
Read Carefully Before You Purchase These 10 Foods
Get Moving! Babble Bloggers Share their Workout Playlists
Let’s Talk About Weight Stigma
6 Reasons You’re Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals & How to Stop
8 Reasons to Take a Yoga Retreat (Even if You’re New to Yoga!)
6 Simple Steps to Clean Eating
Why You Should Drink Watermelon Juice After a Workout