It is the month of October. That means it is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
That's why, to pitch in our bit towards this global effort, we are going to discuss the 7 early warning signs of breast cancer in this article.
Will you show all seven symptoms in one go? Probably not. But most women show 1 - 3 symptoms in the early stages. So it pays to stay aware of them all!
Just remember, only a doctor can diagnose you. So if you see any of these following symptoms, please get your breasts examined by a physician immediately.
#1 Lump in Breast
The commonest (and most well-known) sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. But it can also manifest as an abnormal thickening in one area that was not present before.
In fact, from a statistical point-of-view, if you divide your breast into 4 equal parts along the nipple, then 45% of the time breast lumps are found in the upper right quadrant. The next common site is the upper left quadrant (15%).
And since cancer is known to grow and invade the lymph vessels in our body, a lump in your armpits is also a cause for concern since breast cancer very commonly spreads to the axillary lymph node present in that location.
Also read - 7 Breast Cancer Myths You Must Not Believe
#2 Change in Texture of Your Breast
While the texture of regular breasts usually falls somewhere between perfectly smooth supermodel skin to wrinkled old lady skin, a sudden change in the texture of the skin of your breast is definitely a cause for concern.
Especially if this change resembles the prickly texture of an orange peel.
#3 Abnormal Shape/Size Changes
It is normal to have breasts that are larger on one side than the other. But that is if you have had them since puberty.
If instead, this abnormal shape change (either swelling or shrinkage) is suddenly observed in only one breast over a period of time, then it might be a sign of early-onset breast cancer.
Also read - Do You Know These 7 Types of Breasts?
#4 Dimpling of Breast
From perky cheerleader breasts to sagging milk-laden ones, normal breasts can be of various shapes and sizes. But what they don't want have are dimples.
So if you suddenly observe a distinct depression in one part of your breast one day, please visit a gynecologist and get yourself checked immediately.
It may not be breast cancer. But it is definitely not normal.
#5 Nipple Tenderness
A lot of women have nipple tenderness during their menstrual period. But if this tenderness continues for weeks on end, then the underlying cause can be an infection in your breast, a cyst, or even breast cancer.
Also read - Main Causes of Breast Pain
#6 Change in Nipple Texture
Your nipples and areola (the dark skin around the nipples) usually have a few dots and ridges. But if they suddenly swell up and become red and scaly, then it is a definite cause for concern.
In fact, normal nipples have only two states - flaccid and smooth or tight and puckered. But they are never inverted or pressed inwards. So if you observe the latter, it might be because an underlying lump in your breast is pushing them in.
#7 White or Bloody Discharge from Nipples
Observing a bloody discharge from your nipples can be quite alarming. And so can be a milky discharge, if you are not a breastfeeding mother.
And while this is not always a sign of breast cancer, and can be a sign of an abnormal prolactin level or infection, you should still get yourself checked since either way it is not a normal occurrence.
What Should I Do Now?
If you have are showing one or more of these symptoms, please visit a gynecologist and get a complete breast examination done.
In fact, we recommend you get a breast exam done once every year even if you do not show any of these symptoms.
After all, it's better to be safe than sorry.
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Share this article with the women in your life so they can read it too.
And since we are already discussing womanly concerns, don't just go yet.
Attribution: Watercolor background in cover and breast icons used in image #3 and #5 were designed by freepik.com.