A shocking number of women are diagnosed with breast cancer – around 1 in 8. As the numbers steadily increase, more and more women are finding themselves part of something they never thought would happen to them. Unhealthy lifestyles, stress, poor diets, irregular sleep patterns, and late in life pregnancies can contribute to the rising number of breast cancer cases. Some of these factors may be things you or a loved one has experienced.
Early detection is a key factor in the successful treatment of breast cancer. Prevention, detection, and early diagnosis are crucial for preventing unnecessary deaths. Women often ignore the early warning signs of breast cancer. Here are six often overlooked symptoms of breast cancer:
Lumps and Hard Knots
Believe it or not, lumps and knots are hard to detect. However, if you find one during a regular breast self-exam, it's vital to go in and get a mammogram. Catching this early symptom could save your life and is well worth the trouble of examining your breasts on a monthly basis.
Lumps or Knots Under Your Arms
Everyone has lymph nodes in their armpits. These nodes can get inflamed when there's an infection, but if you notice small knots in your armpits that are hard or painful, this is a frequent early sign of breast cancer.
In some cases, a lump can't be discerned, but the tissue of one breast feels slightly different from the other. This symptom is overlooked because women believe it is a natural sign of aging, but it isn't. If you notice differences in feeling in either breast, see your primary care provider right away. Time is of the essence.
Nipples Changing Shapes
Normal nipples should face outwards and appear healthy. If you notice a drawing in or inward pull on your nipples, something is wrong. Even a change in direction is something to watch out for.
Unless you're pregnant or you've just had a baby, there should never be any fluid or discharge coming from your nipples. If you detect bloody or blood-stained fluid coming from your nipples, this is a medical emergency. You should see your doctor immediately.
Skin Texture Changes
The skin surrounding your breast should be soft and supple. However, any change in the texture of the skin around your breast should be investigated immediately. Thickening, hardening, or dimples are a warning sign for breast cancer.
Take Time to Ensure Breast Health
Breast self-exams are the most effective means for detecting breast cancer. Timely self-exams and periodic mammograms and medical tests that check for changes in your breasts is the best way to catch breast cancer early on and increase the odds of a quick and successful recovery.
Too many women are so busy in their lives that they don't take the time to do these regular exams or to visit their doctors on a regular basis. Family life, jobs, stress, and other situations often take precedent while breast health takes a back seat. Unfortunately, many women discover they have breast cancer late in the disease process when required treatments are more invasive and less effective. This is a tragedy. As women, we must take better care of ourselves, so we can be there for our families and children. Losing someone to breast cancer when it didn't have to happen is a senseless tragedy that can be avoided. It is vital to take the extra time to take care of yourself. Everything else can wait.
If you have additional questions about breast cancer, please contact your primary care provider for more information. Asking questions should never be embarrassing, and it can save your life.
For more information about Mammograms or to schedule one, contact Women’s Imaging.