10 Early Signs of Breast Cancer

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Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Monday May 17, 2021

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Women should be aware of specific health challenges to better take care of themselves. It’s important to do things like monitor discharge and get regular physical exams, but you should also note any changes in your breasts.

It’s easy to forget about self-inspections when you’re rushing through daily life, but you might miss these ten early signs of breast cancer. They’re easily mistaken for other causes and might slip under the radar. Make sure you know what to look out for so you can seek treatment as early as possible if you develop this common type of cancer.

1. Change in Breast Size

When you put on your bra in the morning, you know to expect one cup to fit better than the other. Breasts aren’t identical sizes, so that isn’t a cause for alarm. If you notice them suddenly becoming bigger or smaller, it’s time to think about potential causes.

Pregnancy and dieting can change your breast size due to hormonal fluctuations and fat reduction. If you aren’t pregnant and haven’t tried to lose weight, further exams could be necessary to rule out cancerous growths.

2. Visible Red Patches

Reddening around your breasts could indicate a rare form of inflammatory breast cancer. This kind of cancer blocks the lymphatic vessels covering your breasts, resulting in a red appearance. When the redness doesn’t go away after a few days, your doctor may need to take a closer look.

It’s worth noting that redness can also result from a variety of other conditions. Eczema and skin sensitivities might cause redness if you change your body lotions or wash your hands too frequently. You can always switch to holistic beauty balms to rule out skin allergies or other irritations before scheduling an appointment with your doctor.

3. Differences in Nipple Appearance

Nipple appearance is another one of the early signs of breast cancer. The inflamed cells may cause one nipple to grow or swell much larger than the other. While it’s normal to have some size differences after experiencing puberty, it’s not normal to experience dramatic changes throughout your life.

4. Pain or Tenderness

Can you comfortably sleep on your stomach or hug a loved one? Noticing some breast pain or tenderness could be the first indication of cancer, but it could also indicate pregnancy. When you become pregnant, hormones prepare your breasts for lactation by growing and stretching your milk ducts. It can become uncomfortable even to wear a bra or keep up with healthy habits to ensure a safer delivery.

If a pregnancy test comes back negative, perform a self-examination to pinpoint the source of your tenderness. Mention the issue to your doctor so they can look for other symptoms or perform necessary tests to rule out breast cancer. 

5. Lumps Inside Your Breast

The most well-known early sign of breast cancer is an odd lump in your breast. Even if you do your best to prevent cancer with lifestyle alterations, it’s crucial to learn how to check for lumps, so you catch them as quickly as possible.

Use gentle pressure to press around your breasts, even on the undersides. Experts recommend that women check once a month, like while you shower or stand in front of a mirror. Call your doctor for their professional opinion if you feel anything that seems abnormal.

6. Itchiness Around Breasts

Inflammation caused by cancerous cells can result in itchiness around your breasts. Applying anti-itch cream or lotion will resolve normal itching that results from dry skin or eczema. If the itching continues or gets more intense, your doctor should know when it began and how severe it feels. This information could prompt them to run further tests.

7. Skin Color Change

Tumors close to your skin could block those blood vessels from oxygen circulation. Your skin may become lighter in those cases. Patches of white or lightened skin should prompt an exam with your doctor as soon as you can make it to their office. If they can’t feel any growths beneath the afflicted area, they can run a blood test to see if you have an abnormal white blood cell count.

8. Peeling or Flaking Nipple Skin

Your nipples might feel dry and begin to flake if you develop breast cancer. Flaking and peeling aren’t normal, even if you have severe eczema. A doctor should immediately run further tests. They’ll either identify cancer as the cause or diagnose you with Paget’s Disease, a bone disease that sometimes affects women with breast cancer.

9. Pitting Around Your Breasts

Upon closer inspection, you might notice pitting or dimpling around your breasts. Inflammatory breast cancer causes this because it obstructs normal lymphatic channels that regulate your skin cells. They could collapse from lack of oxygen or blood flow. 

10. Lumps Increasing in Size

If you feel a small lump or something that could pass for one, you might choose to monitor it over a few days. Any increase in size should be a red flag. They will indicate an underlying issue, but cancer shouldn’t be the first concern on your mind.

Lymph nodes in the armpit region sometimes get mistaken for breast cancer. They’ll swell into small, hard lumps if your system needs to fight infection. Lymph nodes contain white blood cells as a secondary form of defense for your immune system.

The swollen glands usually disappear within two to three weeks after you get sick. Swelling that lasts longer than three weeks should get checked out by your doctor.

Get a Second Opinion

Learning about the early signs of breast cancer is an excellent way to protect your health, but it shouldn’t be your primary reason for concern. If you spot any of these symptoms, get a second opinion. Consult your doctor for exams and tests so if you have breast cancer, you can start the proper treatment immediately.

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