12 Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Have you ever stopped and wondered how likely you are to get breast cancer?
According to the National Cancer Institute, 12.9% of American women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. That’s nearly 1 in 8 women. And while breast cancer is rarer in men, they are still at risk. About 2,650 American men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021.
As with other forms of cancer, many breast cancer deaths among both women and men occur because the diagnosis came too late. And when cancer spreads far enough, it may be impossible to effectively treat it and save the patient’s life.
It’s important to know what to look for in order to detect breast cancer as early as possible. Read on to discover 12 warning signs of breast cancer.
1. Lumps in breasts and/or armpits
Perhaps the most famous warning sign of breast cancer is the appearance of lumps on your breasts or armpits that won’t go away. These hardened lumps or bumps may feel like peas, marbles, or walnuts.
It’s important to give yourself a breast self-exam once a month to check for lumps. In addition to checking for lumps, you should look for areas of thickened skin around your breasts: this may be a cancer warning sign even if outright lumps have not appeared.
How to perform a breast self-exam
If you find a lump or notice any unusual changes in your breasts, talk to your doctor immediately.
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2. Unexpected skin effects
There are many possible skin effects that breast cancer can cause, including thickening, puckering, redness, rashes, and more. A good rule of thumb is that you should treat any changes to the appearance of your breasts very seriously.
One of the more infamous possible warning signs of breast cancer is known as peau d’orange, in which breast skin appears dimpled, resembling the texture of an orange peel.
3. Changing breast size
Normal hormone changes during women’s menstrual cycles can cause breasts to swell the week before menstruation. However, if you notice a significant change in breast size that was never there before, it may be a symptom of breast cancer. Additionally, if you notice the sudden appearance of veins on your breasts that were not there before, it could indicate the presence of a tumor.
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4. Changing nipples
Speaking of changes to your body, breast cancer can sometimes cause your nipples to change in unexpected ways. We say “unexpected” because there is no magic right size or shape for nipples. But if you experience a sudden change (like your nipples inverting, scabbing, or crusting over), go to your doctor right away to get a cancer screening.
5. Sudden swelling
When breast cancer spreads to different parts of your body, it can lead to different effects. For example, cancer spreading to your lymph nodes may cause your armpits and even your collarbone to suddenly swell up. Getting medical attention right away could help you to contain the cancer.
6. Persistent itching
It’s not uncommon that you need to scratch your breasts, especially if they are being irritated by your bra. But if you have persistent itchiness that doesn’t go away even with the help of skincare products, it may be a warning sign of breast cancer.
7. Leaking nipples
You might have noticed that many of these warning signs involve your body doing something unexpected. Perhaps the most unexpected thing that breast cancer does is make your nipples leak, even if you’re not pregnant or breastfeeding. And the discharge may have a strange color (such as red or green) and/or have a strange odor as well.
8. Indented areas on your chest
Earlier, we noted how swelling of your breasts can be a warning sign of cancer. But another unexpected warning sign is that part of your breast is suddenly indented or even flat, appearing almost like a dimple. This may be a sign that a tumor is lurking underneath your skin.
9. Shortness of breath
It’s possible for breast cancer to eventually spread throughout your body, including your lungs. If this happens, it may lead to shortness of breath. If you have not previously had breathing issues and suddenly have shortness of breath, it may be a sign that breast cancer has advanced within your body.
10. A weird tickling feeling
While most of these warning signs are things that you can see or feel externally, others are more internal. For instance, some women who have had breast cancer reported that it felt like they were being tickled inside their bodies or that their breasts were buzzing or felt overly hot inside. Basically, if you have unexpected sensations deep within your body, breast cancer could be the cause. Similarly, persistent breast soreness that has no other explanation may be a cancer warning sign.
11. Changing weight
If your weight is fluctuating up or down, it could be due to many factors including changes in diet, exercise, or metabolism. But if your weight is changing and you cannot figure out what the cause is, the change may be due to breast cancer causing havoc within your body.
12. Pimples that won’t go away
While most of us dread pimples on our faces, it’s possible to get pimples on your breasts. But like other pimples, these zits usually go away on their own. But if you have a pimple (or more than one) that doesn’t go away after a week or two, you should consult with your doctor about the possibility of breast cancer.