Breast Cancer Signs
The signs and symptoms of breast cancer
Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the United States. Nearly 40,000 American women die every year from the disease, and it's estimated that one in eight women will be affected by breast cancer at some point in their lives.
The good news is that breast cancer is a treatable form of cancer, if it's caught early. The bad news is that not all women perform the monthly self breast exams that are vital for discovering the signs and symptoms of breast cancer in its early stages.
One of the most frightening aspects of breast cancer is that there are sometimes no obvious signs that the disease is present, particularly during the early stages. Women who feel healthy and whose bodies show no clear signs of breast cancer can be affected. This is why it's so important for women (particularly women over 40) to perform regular self breast exams and to pay close attention to the appearance and feel of their breasts. Even small and seemingly innocuous abnormalities shouldn't be ignored.
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
Even during its early stages, breast cancer typically begins to cause changes in the body that can be discovered by a monthly self breast exam. The most common breast cancer signs and symptoms include:
- A visible change in the shape or size of one breast (it's normal for one breast to be larger than the other, but a sudden change in size is a warning sign)
- A lump that feels different from the surrounding breast tissue (lumps can also appear in the underarm area)
- A change in the appearance of the skin on the breast or the areola, such as skin with dimples in some places (like the skin on an orange) or appears reddish in color
- Nipple tenderness
- An inverted nipple
- A nipple that appears dry or has flaky, peeling skin
- Bloody discharge from the nipple
If you notice any of these early signs of breast cancer, you should immediately make an appointment to see a medical professional. Some women notice one or more of the above symptoms but don't believe they are in any danger because they feel healthy. Even small, painless lumps in the breast tissue can be evidence of the disease's presence. Don't take the risk. If you notice any of the above symptoms, talk to your doctor.