Signs and symptoms of breast cancer, besides the lump

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Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It affects both women and men. One of the most common cancers in women, it affects approximately 2.1 million women each year.

However, the first symptoms of breast cancer are often felt better than seen. Therefore, being aware of your breast through regular examination by yourself or by a clinician can help detect sudden changes that warrant further investigation, says Dr Geeth Monnappa, consulting obstetrician and gynecologist. , Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore.

In Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the doctor explains that while the focus has always been on finding breast or armpit lumps, you need to know about other signs of cancer that need immediate attention. These are:

1. Change in breast size or shape

It is common for breasts to swell and feel sore before your period. But if you notice a change in the size of a particular breast, it’s probably best to see your doctor about it.

2. Nipple discharge

Any watery, bloody, or milky discharge from the breast in a person who is not breastfeeding requires a full evaluation.

3. Nipple pull (inverted nipple)

Although many people have flat or inverted nipples as a normal feature, if you’ve noticed that your nipples are pointing inward rather than outward lately, see your doctor.

4. Redness or scaly skin of the nipple or breast

This could be the first sign of breast cancer affecting the nipple, called Paget’s disease. Scaly skin can also be the result of skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis, so it does not always indicate cancer, but requires evaluation by a doctor.

5. Irritation or dimpling of the skin of the breast

If the skin on your breast appears wrinkled, you need an immediate evaluation to determine the cause.

Screening for early detection

Mammography: This is an x-ray of the breast that is considered the best way to find cancer at an early stage, long before the lump is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.

When to start breast cancer screening?

40-49 years:
A person chooses to start testing annually or once every two years after appropriate counseling.

50-74 years:
Screening once every two years with a mammogram is recommended.

75 years or older:
Continue screening as long as life expectancy is greater than 10 years.

Breast self-examination

Although studies have not proven the effectiveness of breast self exams in detecting breast cancer early, being familiar with your breasts will help you notice small bumps or changes early when they can be. reported to your doctor.

The breast self-exam is preferably done after your period every month or on a specific day each month in postmenopausal women, the doctor concludes.