When abnormal breast cells grow out of control and tumors, it means that a woman has been affected by breast cancer. It starts in the milk ducts of the breast, as per the information by the World Health Organisation. While lumps are an early sign of breast cancer, it is not the only sign you should consider. It is a complex disease that may show itself beyond a lump in your 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.
Telling Health Shots the signs of breast cancer and more about the disease this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Rohan Khandelwal, Lead Consultant Oncology and Head of the Breast Centre at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram has shared some insights.
Early detection of breast cancer is necessary to reduce complication risk
A common concern among women worldwide, breast cancer has caused more than 6,85,000 deaths in the world in 2020. As per reports by WHO, the disease does not occur with any specific risk factors other than sex and age. Dr Khandelwal stresses the importance of getting regular breast cancer screening as early as possible, especially if the disease runs in your family.
“One commonly encountered benign breast condition is fibroadenoma, which can mimic cancerous growths. Understanding the significance of regular breast cancer screening, coupled with advancements in treatment modalities and diagnostics, is crucial for better prognosis and improved quality of life for individuals affected by breast conditions like fibroadenomas,” adds the oncologist.
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Even if you are not getting mammograms because breast cancer doesn’t run in your family, you should look out if you see any changes in your chest. Early signs of breast cancer show up when the cancer is developing and not advanced. If detected at an earlier stage, your chances of treating it improve. Dr Khandelwal says that early detection of breast cancer enables timely intervention and potentially saves your life. Breast cancer screening includes mammograms, clinical breast examinations, and self-examinations.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer other than lumps
Yes, a lump could be a sign of breast cancer but not every lump is breast cancer either. Here are some of the other signs of breast cancer you should know
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1. Sudden change in the size of breasts
Any change in your chest’s size or shape, Dr Khandelwal says should be checked. In some cases, the size of breasts increases during periods but they go back to the original size after your periods. However, this doesn’t happen if you have cancer. If you notice any difference in either or both breast’s size and shape, consult your doctor immediately.
2. Nipple or breast pain
“Any new or persistent pain in one area of the breast should also be evaluated by a specialist,” says the expert. While some pain in the breast is unrelated to cancer, it could be an early sign of breast cancer you shouldn’t ignore.
3. Retraction of the nipple
Retraction of the nipple means that your nipple flattens or turns inwards suddenly. Breast cancer sometimes be identified early by nipple inversion, thus it is critical to get any persistent or unexplained changes in the nipple assessed early enough. You should visit a doctor if this happens or if you experience this problem in any other part of your breast.
4. Persistent pain in breast or underarms
Do you feel a certain sort of pain in your breast or underarms that just doesn’t go away? It could be an early sign of breast cancer you should look out for. While the cause may be non-cancerous, it could potentially be an early indicator of breast cancer, highlights the oncologist. It is important to get a timely examination and get a proper diagnosis.
5. Changes in nipple
While some nipple changes are common, you shouldn’t ignore them because they are common. As per the data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, changes in your nipples could be an early sign of breast cancer. Any variations in your nipples like blood in nipple discharge, nipple inversions, and scaling on the skin are some of the changes you should look out for.
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6. Redness around the nipple
Redness or inflammation around the nipple that doesn’t seem normal, especially if it’s warm, should be taken seriously and should not be ignored, points Dr Khandelwal. While it can be caused by a number of things, 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 a proper examination from a doctor to know whether or not you are affected with the disease.