Being in the high risk group myself, I would like to share the following information on Breast Cancer, particularly its symptoms and methods for breasts self examination.
In the first stages of breast cancer there is usually no pain. When the disease first develops, there may be no symptoms at all. But as the cancer advances some of the following symptoms may become apparent. If these symptoms are observed then the individual should consult her physician who would then carry out tests to find out for sure if the individual does have breast cancer or not.
(a) Change in shape and size of the breast.
(b) Lump or mass present in the armpit.
(c) Presence of a breast mass or breast lump, on examination, which is generally painless, has no regular borders and is firm to hard to the touch.
(d) A nipple discharge which is abnormal in that it is usually green, bloody or clear to yellow fluid or may look like pus.
(e) A change in appearance or any sensation of the nipple, that is, if there is any itching, any enlargement or the nipple is retracted.
(f) Enlargement, pain in the breast, or any discomfort on only one side.
(g) Change in the feel or color of the skin of the nipple, or areola or the breast itself, that is, a redness, veins on breast surface are accentuated, scaly; dimpled or puckered and a retracted appearance.
(h) Some symptoms of an advanced case of the disease are weight loss, bone pain, skin ulceration and swelling of one arm.
Of the above-mentioned symptoms there are some that most women are not aware of that are actually symptoms of breast cancer. They are:
(a) Breast that is warm to the touch: A breast that always feel warm, sometimes hot to the touch is a symptom of inflammatory breast cancer, a dangerous and rare type of the disease.
(b) Flat or inverted nipple: A nipple that is flat or inverted is also a symptom of breast cancer. This does not include having an inverted nipple since birth.
(c) A breast that is often itchy: If you have itchy breasts or nipples, talk to your doctor. These are both symptoms of breast cancer.
(d) The skin around the breast is dimpled or looks like an orange peel: Breast and surrounding skin can take on a dimpled appearance, looking like an orange peel. Many women are too embarrassed to show a doctor, thinking it is cellulite or from being overweight. This is not the case.
(e) Swollen or breast that does not change with menstrual cycle or size increase: It's normal for a woman's breast to become swollen and tender during a normal menstrual cycle, but when it's constant, it needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Women also need to be aware of a sudden breast size increase.
(f) Breast that is red or blotchy: A breast that is red or blotchy, even having a rash-like appearance should be evaluated by a doctor. It is a symptom of inflammatory breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of cancer that is often undetected by a mammogram and self breast exam.
7 Myths About Breast Cancer
Although many advances have been made in breast cancer detection and treatment over the last quarter century, the fact is we still don’t know much about the causes of breast cancer or its cure. This leaves many of us misunderstanding the facts about breast cancer. It’s time we dispel those myths and replace them with what we know is true about breast cancer.
1. Myth: I’m too young to worry about breast cancer.
Fact: While it’s true that your breast cancer risk increases as you get older, the fact is that women of all ages are at risk for developing breast cancer.
2. Myth: There’s never been a case of breast cancer in my family so I don’t need to worry about it happening to me.
Fact: The truth is the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history of this devastating cancer. However, if your mother, sister, or grandmother ever had breast cancer your risk is significantly increased.
3. Myth: I don’t have a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene so I’m sure breast cancer is not in my future.
Fact: Don’t fool yourself! Not having a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene does not mean you won’t get breast cancer. Actually, the truth is that almost all women (90 to 95 percent) diagnosed with breast cancer have neither a family history nor mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, according to the American Cancer Society.
4. Myth: The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer had more than one risk factor prior to diagnosis.
Fact: All women are at risk for developing breast cancer whether they have known risk factors. In fact, the majority of breast cancer patients had no known risk factors, other than being female, for this frightening disease.
5. Myth: Breast cancer is preventable.
Fact: Although a drug classified as an antiestrogen called, Tamoxifen may decrease breast cancer risk in certain women; the cause of breast cancer remains unknown and is not completely preventable. The real key to surviving breast cancer is early detection and treatment.
6. Myth: Having yearly mammograms will expose me to too much radiation and cancer will occur as a result.
Fact: According to the American College of Radiology, the benefits of annual mammograms far outweigh any risks that may occur because of the minute amount of radiation used during this screening and diagnostic procedure.
7. Myth: I’m not going to breastfeed because breastfeeding would increase my risk of getting breast cancer.
Fact: Just the opposite is true. Breastfeeding may actually decrease the risk of perimenopausal breast cancer.
How To Do Breast Self Examination (BSE)
Doing a monthly breast self examination (BSE) is vital for every woman. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. 1 out of every 8 women will develop the disease.
Performing a monthly breast self examination may also aid in early detection of breast cancer.
Time required: 10-15 minutes
1. Lie down and place a pillow under your right shoulder. Next, place your right arm under your head.
2. Using your three middle fingers of your left hand, massage your right breast with the pads of your fingers. Check for any lumps or abnormalities. You can move in a circular motion, or up and down. Make sure you use the same motion every month.
3. Continue the motion, extending to the outside of the breast to your underarm.
4. Repeat on left side.
5. Next, repeat exam standing up, with one arm behind your shoulder as you examine each breast. Standing or sitting up allows you to feel the outside of the breast more accurately.
6. For added precaution, stand in front of a mirror and squeeze each nipple. Look for any discharge.
7. Take note of any dimpling, redness or swelling.
1. You can do a portion of the exam while you are in shower. Incorporating it into a normal activity can make it easier to do, and less of a time constraint. Remember to mark your calendar every month as a reminder.
2. Do the self breast exam every month at the same time. Menstruating women should perform it a few days after their period. Women taking oral contraceptives should do the exam on the first day of starting a new pack of pills.
3. Report any changes to your physician, even if you feel it is minor.
4. You can also choose a friend who will be your BSE (breast self exam) Buddy. She can remind you and vice versa to do the exam monthly.
What You Need:
• A pillow
• A mirror
PLEASE NOTE THAT EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES!!
More about breast cancer on my next blog!