Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Chances are, you will know someone with breast cancer in your lifetime. But aside from feeling a lump in the breast, do you know the signs of breast cancer and what can be done to catch it early? Knowing the basics, and examining your breasts regularly for any changes, could save your life.
Breast cancer symptoms
The most common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in the breast or underarm area — with or without pain
- Thickening in any area of the breast
- Swelling of any part of the breast or of the entire breast
- Pain in the breast or nipple
- Changes in the appearance of the nipple, such as pulling inward
- Changes in the skin on the breast, such as dimpled, red, scaly, or thick areas
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk for nursing mothers)
- Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the underarm (this can often be a sign of other illness, but it’s best to get it checked)
Anything unusual should be reported to your doctor immediately. Although these symptoms do not always indicate cancer, you should consult your doctor early for the best possible outcome. The earlier breast cancer is treated, the higher your chances of success.
Detecting breast cancer early
Knowing these symptoms may alert you to a problem, but it’s important to know that some women show no symptoms of breast cancer. In order to catch cancer early, when it is most treatable, experts recommend:
- Mammograms. A mammogram is still the best way to detect breast cancer, including cancer that you can’t see or feel in an exam. Women 50-74 years old will typically need a mammogram every two years. Women 40-49 years old should talk with their physician about a recommended mammogram schedule. Some women who have a family history of the disease or certain risk factors may need more frequent screenings.
- Clinical breast exam (CBE). This is a manual exam done by your gynecologist at your yearly checkup. He or she will be looking for lumps or anything unusual.
- Breast self-exam (BSE). At least once a month, you should carefully examine your breasts for any changes, particularly the symptoms listed above.
Regular CBEs and BSEs do not replace mammograms. Be sure to schedule your mammograms as recommended for the best chance at successful detection and treatment.
CarePoint Health Gynecology
CarePoint Health offers digital mammography services and comprehensive breast cancer care at our Breast Center Your gynecologist can talk with you about your recommended screenings and any potential risk factors. It’s just one more reason to see your gynecologist for regular check-ups!
With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health , you can help prevent health problems and get the screening tests you need. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.