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Symptoms of breast cancer

Breast cancer is one of most dangerous diseases women could have. Unfortunately sometimes symptoms of breast cancer appear too late and only screening mammography can discover cancerous small tumor. But in most cases women don’t pay attention to signs which are typical for breast cancer.

It is absolutely crucial to know all possible symptoms of breast cancer because early stages of this cancer can be fully treated and women lives can be saved.

Symptoms of breast cancer – breast lump

In many cases the painless breast lump is the first sign of cancer. Usually woman finds the lump which does not get smaller or go away with the menstrual cycle and it looks like it is attached to the skin or chest wall and cannot be moved. Most breast lumps are not cancerous but if the lump is hard, irregular in shape and very different from the rest of the breast tissue, it could be the cancer. Sometimes breast cancer can be tender, soft and rounded.

Special attention should be paid to lumps in the armpit (underarm area) – painless and hard lump with uneven edges is more likely to be cancer.

According to medical experts, about 90% breast lumps in young women (20-45) are not cancerous and caused by hormonal changes, breast infections, breast cysts, breast fibroadenoma or fat necrosis (damaged tissue).

Symptoms of breast cancer – breast pain

Symptoms of breast cancer

Sometimes women could experience sharp breast pain combined with breast tenderness. Persistent unusual pain that is not related to normal monthly menstrual cycle and doesn’t go away after next menstrual period and remains after period could be a sign of breast cancer. Special attention should be paid to constant pain in one breast or in one part of the breast or in one side armpit.

Breast pain can be scary but not always it could be dangerous. Breast pain is more often a symptom of non-cancerous (benign) conditions such as mastopathy, fibroadenoma, cysts. Best would be to meet your doctor and do annual screening mammography.

Symptoms of breast cancer – nipple peculiarities

Most common sign of breast cancer is inverted (pointed inward) nipple on one side. Normal nipples that suddenly became inverted should be checked by medical experts.

Sometimes women could note nipple changes such as redness, scaliness, thickening or changes in the shape of the nipple. Special attention should be paid to changes on or around the nipple on one side – rash, flaky or crusted skin.

Unusual spontaneous (without squeezing) discharge from one nipple also can be a sign of breast cancer – especially if it is yellow, brown or bloodstained.

Rare type of breast cancer called “Paget disease” could cause nipple crusting, ulcers or scaling.

Symptoms of breast cancer – breast size or shape changes

Breast asymmetry is pretty common condition and should not be a cause of concern. But if you note sudden changes of one breast size or one breast shape, it could be a warning sign.

Swelling of all or part of one breast, increase or decrease in the size of one breast, shape change of one breast and swelling or discomfort in the armpit could be symptoms of breast cancer.

Symptoms of breast cancer – breast skin changes

Most common sign of breast cancer is so called “orange peel skin” (“peau d’orange”) caused by unusually enlarged pores – the redness or thickening or puckering or irritation and dimpling appeared on breast skin. Sometimes skin changes could be combined with itchiness or rash

Late symptoms of breast cancer

Unfortunately some women discover breast cancer pretty late and they are forced to have long complicated treatments. If you miss early breast cancer signs, please try to identify some late breast cancer symptoms. Late symptoms usually appear when cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body:

  • Unexpected weight loss,
  • Loss of appetite or nausea,
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit,
  • Newly appeared visible veins on the breast,
  • Bone pain,
  • Change of body skin, sometimes jaundice,
  • Shortness of breath or unexpected cough.

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