Breast cancer is a cancer that starts within the breast, usually within the milk ducts or the lobules that supply milk to the milk ducts. Though we know more about breast cancer today than ever before, and prognoses and survival rates of this condition are much better now, this is still a killer that should be apprehended and treated as soon as possible.
For successful cancer treatments early detection is very important. So what are the early signs of breast cancer in women? Let’s have a look.
1. Irregular mammogram
This is best able to detect any breast abnormality; before it can be felt by a woman herself. So if a woman is having regular mammograms according to guidelines given for her specific risk factors, a mammogram will detect cancer very early on.
2. Lump or thickening in the breast or underarm
This is usually the first sign that a woman may herself detect of her breast cancer. A lump or cyst-like structure (feels like a marble beneath the skin) anywhere in the breast or even a swelling in the underarm could be warning signs, though these are as likely to be benign. Even painless lumps could be problematic and should be checked.
Sometimes it may not be a lump, but rather a thickening or the appearance of an orange that could be a warning sign of breast cancer.
3. Pain, tenderness, or prickling sensation in the breast
Any pain or tenderness, or a prickling sensation in the breast or the underarm with or without the feeling of a lump or swelling should be investigated.
4. Change in appearance or temperature
If the breast feels warm to the touch, or if there is a change in its size, color or appearance, take heed. A reddish color or a pitted looking surface, a puckering of any sort; even a flattening or any sort of indentation in the breast, should be checked immediately. These could be signs of advanced breast cancer and should receive immediate treatment.
5. Nipple changes
Any nipple changes should also never be ignored. If the nipple takes on an inverted aspect or seems to be dimpled in any way, if there seems to be any sores on the nipple, any itching or burning sensations, these are serious warning signs. Any sort of discharge from the nipple – colorless, bloody, or any kind, that is not related to lactation should be checked. Though some discharges could well be benign, they should be checked because there is a chance that the reason could be breast cancer.