It is vital that all women know and understand the symptoms of breast cancer. It has been proven time and time again that early detection is the key to surviving this awful disease. Breast cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer when it is detected early and more and more women and men are surviving the disease.
While breast self examination is important you must also keep an eye out for changes in the appearance of your breasts. Basic symptoms of the disease are pain and tenderness in the breast, lumps in the breast or the underarms, and changes in the skin of the breast.
A Personal Slant
I want to start off saying that I am an 11-year breast cancer survivor. I discovered I had a breast lump after I had breast reduction surgery (the two were not connected, the surgery made the lump easier to find, it did not cause the cancer). I assumed it was scar tissue but when I went to the doctor he had it removed as soon as possible and checked. It turned out to be a fast-growing form of breast cancer. I was back in surgery within weeks to have my lymph nodes checked. Luckily, the cancer had not spread. I did undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The chemotherapy was done many as a preventative step.
It was a tough way to start my 40th year, but I made it through. The chemo did take away my ability to have children and brought on early menopause. But I hadn't planned on having children anyway.
Before I was diagnosed, I never gave any thought at all to breast cancer or to cancer at all. Even though I had known people who had died of the disease, I assumed it would be someone else's disease. My diagnosis certainly opened my eyes.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Lumps in the breast or the underarms
Perhaps the most noticeable symptom is breast cancer is a lump in your breast. A lump can be many things, a cyst, an infection, or scar tissue. Four out of five lumps found in the breast are not cancerous. However, it is vital that you visit you doctor when you discover any sort of lump in your breast or underars.
Breast Pain or Tenderness
If your breasts are suddenly more tender than usual or if you have a nagging pain in your breast, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
Changes in the Skin
If your breast skin suddenly becomes pitted or red, or if you notice any changes in the shape of your breast, you should visit your doctor immediately. While there can be many reasons for this change, you must get a proper diagnosis.
If you start experiencing any changes in your nipples you should also make an appointment with your doctor. Such changes can be bloody discharge, peeling and flaking, and even an inverted nipple.
Detection is the Key
It is imperative that women get yearly mammograms and that men are routinely checked for breast cancer. As I said at the beginning, early detection is the key. Hopefully, one day we will be able to say this disease no longer exists. But, until then we must remain vigilant.