When abnormal breast cells grow out of control and form tumors, it means a woman has breast cancer. It begins in the milk ducts of the breast, according to information from the World Health Organization. Although lumps are an early sign of breast cancer, they are not the only sign to be aware of. It is a complex disease that can manifest beyond a lump in the breasts and go unnoticed. If you also think that lumps are the only sign of breast cancer, here are some of the more subtle signs of breast cancer that you should know about.
Revealing to Health Shots the signs of breast cancer and more about the disease this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Rohan Khandelwal, Senior Consultant Oncology and Head, Breast Center at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, shared some ideas.
Early detection of breast cancer is necessary to reduce the risk of complications
A common concern among women around the world, breast cancer caused more than 6,85,000 deaths worldwide in 2020. According to WHO reports, the disease does not occur with any specific risk factors other than gender and age. Dr. Khandelwal emphasizes the importance of getting regular breast cancer screening as early as possible, especially if the disease is hereditary.
“Fibroadenoma is a commonly encountered benign breast condition that can mimic cancerous tumors. Understanding the importance of regular breast cancer screening, coupled with advances in treatment modalities and diagnostics, is crucial for better prognosis and quality of life for those affected by breast conditions like fibroadenomas,” adds the oncologist.
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Even if you don’t get a mammogram because breast cancer doesn’t run in your family, you should be careful if you notice any changes in your breast. The first signs of breast cancer appear when the cancer is growing and has not advanced. If it is detected early, your chances of treating it improve. Dr. Khandelwal says early detection of breast cancer allows for rapid intervention and can potentially save your life. Breast cancer screening includes mammograms, clinical breast exams and self-exams.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer other than lumps
Yes, a lump can be a sign of breast cancer, but not all lumps are breast cancer either. Here are some of the other signs of breast cancer you should know about
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1. Sudden change in breast size
Any changes in the size or shape of your breast, says Dr. Khandelwal, should be checked. In some cases, breasts increase in size during your period but return to their original size after your period. However, this does not happen if you have cancer. If you notice a difference in the size and shape of one or both breasts, see your doctor immediately.
2. Nipple or chest pain
“Any new or persistent pain in an area of the breast should also be assessed by a specialist,” says the expert. Even though some breast pain is not cancer-related, it could be an early sign of breast cancer that you should not ignore.
3. Nipple retraction
Nipple retraction means your nipple suddenly flattens or turns inward. Breast cancer can sometimes be identified early by nipple inversion. It is therefore essential to assess any persistent or unexplained changes in the nipple early enough. You should see a doctor if this happens or if you experience this problem in another part of your breast.
4. Persistent pain in the breast or armpits
Do you feel some type of pain in your chest or armpits that doesn’t go away? This could be an early sign of breast cancer that you should pay attention to. Although the cause may be non-cancerous, it could potentially be an early indicator of breast cancer, the oncologist points out. It is important to undergo a timely examination and obtain a proper diagnosis.
5. Nipple changes
Although some nipple changes are common, you shouldn’t ignore them because they are common. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, changes in your nipples could be an early sign of breast cancer. Any variations in your nipples, such as blood in the nipple discharge, nipple inversions, and flaking on the skin, are some of the changes you need to pay attention to.
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6. Redness around the nipple
Redness or inflammation around the nipple that doesn’t seem normal, especially if it’s hot, should be taken seriously and should not be ignored, Dr. Khandelwal emphasizes. Although this can be caused by a number of factors, such as infections and irritants, it could also be a sign of breast cancer. It is important to assess and diagnose well in advance.
If you notice any of these signs, you should get yourself properly examined by a doctor to find out whether or not you have the condition.