Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer seen in women, and may lead to surgery, impaired body image and sexuality, and sometimes death. Breast self-examination is ideal for women to understand what is normal, and to spot any changes that may need physician’s attention. Any unusual changes identified should immediately be discussed with a healthcare professional without any further delay.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of breast cancer for you to look out for:
- Lump or thickening in or near the breast – This is one of the most common symptoms. Lumps or thickened tissues found in or near the breast or underarm area should be brought to the attention of a physician. It may be very small, like the size of a pea. All lumps may not be cancerous, but it is better to get it examined by a doctor.
- Change in the texture of the skin in the breast – The pores of the skin enlarge and develop reddish, scaly skin, giving it an ‘orange peel’ texture for the skin.
- Change in the appearance of the breast – A change in the size, shape, or the outline of the breast should be brought to the attention of a doctor. This can be a sudden shrinkage on one side of the breast, a sudden development of asymmetry in the two breasts, inverted or sunken nipples, or a dimpling on one of the breasts.
- Discharge from the nipple – A whitish, milky discharge from the nipple, especially when the women are not breastfeeding, should be examined by the doctor. In some cases, this discharge may be streaked with blood. Not all discharges are associated with breast cancer, but it is better to check to be sure.
- Pain in the breasts – Pain in one of the breasts or underarms that is not associated with the menstrual periods should also be reported.
- Rashes around the nipple – Rash in or around the nipple area should be checked.
In most cases, these symptoms may not be due to any cancerous growth in the breasts. But, it is always better to undergo an investigation to rule out the possibility. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for successfully removing the condition. Although self-examinations are useful in identifying the symptoms, regular checkups are very important.