Basics Of Breast Cancer
Cancer can be defined as the abnormal multiplication of cells in the body that cannot be controlled. This growth of cells can also affect other parts of the body besides the original organ. Breast cancer is a problem where the cells in the mammary glands start growing due to no reason and proceed to form into lumps known as tumors in medical terms.
Breast cancer can strike a woman at any age but the average age for this disease is between 40 and 60 years. Recent studies have found that women who have not borne children or have not breastfed are more at risk of developing breast cancer. Substance abuse such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and drug use can also contribute towards this problem.
Breast cancer can easily be detected through regular self breast examinations, routine doctor visits and yearly mammograms (once a year after 30 years of age). This disease also tends to run in families especially in the female line.
If your mother, grandmother, sister or maternal aunt had this type of cancer, you also have a high chance of having it. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are also major factors that can cause the onset of breast cancer. Any abnormal or new lumps, swellings, inflammation, discoloration and any other change in appearance of the breasts should not be taken lightly and needs to be reported to a specialist doctor immediately.
There are some common symptoms of breast cancer that you should be aware so that you can recognize them easily if they appear. Here is a list of early symptoms of breast cancer.
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Inflammation Or Swelling
One of the first signs of breast cancer is a mild swelling in certain areas or all over the breasts. This can appear in one or both organs. The sites of inflammation may or may not be tender and painful to touch.
Redness Or Discoloration
Many women notice that the skin on the breasts changes color and becomes lighter. There may also be redness that is accompanied with pain or similar discomfort.
Lumps And Bumps
You may feel a lump, which is hard to the touch, in the breast region.
Even a lump in the underarms can be a sign of breast cancer. Such lumps are usually immovable and have well defined edges and may or not be visible to the naked eye.
The nipples are the most visible parts of the breasts and are important for a breastfeeding mother. They are also one of the areas that show some early signs and symptoms of breast cancer. There may be a problem if you notice that the shape of the nipple changes (it becomes irregular at the boundary) and some discoloration appears.
Some women also complain of scaly skin on the nipples and redness which may sometimes even be accompanied with itching. The nipples can also collapse or become inverted in such a situation.
The areola is the dark skin that surrounds the nipple. Breast cancer causes this area to change color completely or in certain patches. You may also notice that the border of the areola (usually round or oval shaped) becomes haphazard. Some women also experience itching and pain in the area along with mild to severe swelling.
Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer say that one of the initial signs of this disease is the secretion of a light colored discharge. This discharge is very different from breast milk and can be easily identified as abnormal fluid. It is usually pus that is secreted through the nipples in case the milk ducts are blocked or obstructed due to a tumor or growth.
Tumors can often cause pain and discomfort in the affected areas. Do not ignore any such discomfort in the underarm region either.
This is because the signs of breast cancer can also appear in this area as well as the breasts. Patients usually say that the pain is dull, throbbing and intermittent as opposed to being sharp and stinging.
This is a lesser known sign of breast cancer but is quite common. Tumors in the breasts have the tendency to grow and put pressure on the ribs, backbone and shoulders. Sometimes pain in the shoulders or the back can be a signal that you may have breast cancer especially if it keeps coming back even after medication. Do not ignore any such prolonged back pain and report it to your doctor immediately.