Breast Cancer Awareness | Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer has become the most prevailing cancer among women—
1 in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. and 1 in 29 women in India. Having an awareness of breast cancer is essential, and so is the knowledge of breast health. A woman must be proactive and make sure you’re aware of changes in her body. Every woman needs to learn to conduct a breast self-examination, understand how her breasts normally look and feel to recognize any changes that may occur, and know when to see a doctor if you are worried about the changes in your breast. In this article, Dr Kausthub Desikachar shares some knowledge based on his experience with working with students, on breast-cancer awareness, breast cancer symptoms, and the steps to be taken if any signs spotted.
What Exactly Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that emerges in breast cells in women. Typically, some breast cells begin to grow abnormally. These cells divide and multiply more swiftly than healthy cells do and accumulate, forming a lump or mass—most breast cancer forms in either the lobules or the ducts of the breast.
Knowing the parts of the breast and their function will certainly help every woman be more aware and conscious of any changes or abnormalities noticed. Each breast has 15 to 20 glands called lobules, each of which has smaller lobules responsible for producing milk, and they surround the nipples like the spokes of a wheel. Ducts, also known as the lactiferous ducts, are thin tubes that carry breast milk from the lobules out to the nipple.
These abnormal cancer cells often attack the other healthy breast tissue and move to the lymph nodes beneath the arms, which are the primary pathway that helps the cancer cells progress to different parts of the body.
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Most people think of a lump in the breast as cancer detection. This is a possible warning sign, but it is not the only one. It may also not be the first symptom to develop. Every individual has different symptoms, and some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are—
- New lump in the breast or the armpit
- A part of the breast being swollen
- Changes in breast size and shape
- Irritability on the skin of the breast
- Abscess or rash on the nipple
- Inversion (pulling in)of the nipple or other parts of the breast
- Any discharge from the nipple other than breast milk
- Continous pain in any area of the breast.
- Noticeable veins on the surface of the breast
- Change in breast skin texture
- A place that’s unusual from any other place on either breast
Dr Kausthub Desikachar says that the symptoms mentioned above need not necessarily mean that cancer is present in the breast. These symptoms can occur with other conditions that are not cancer as well.
However, if a person notices these changes, they should consult a doctor to make sure if it is cancer and take necessary treatments; if not, you have peace of mind.
What Is a Normal Breast?
No breast is standard. What seems normal for you may not be identical to another woman. The way breasts look and feel can be influenced by many factors during a woman’s lifetime.
Normal Breast Changes
Most women have changes in the breasts at different events during their lifetime. Hormonal changes in women happen at many stages of life, leading to lumps, changes in shape, and other changes that are not due to cancer.
Some of the factors that impact a change in the breast in a woman are-
- Menstrual Periods- Your breast may feel swollen or heavy, tender, and slightly painful before or during your periods. Chances are you might even feel one or more lumps during this time because of the extra fluid in your breast.
- Pregnancy – Your breasts may feel lumpy during pregnancy because the lobule glands that produce milk increase and are getting larger.
- Lactation – Your breast may feel lumpy, red, warm and tender while breastfeeding when a milk duct gets blocked.
- Weight gain- Your breast may feel fuller and heavy when there is an increase in your weight.
- Certain medications- Certain medications can interfere with the growth of your breast, making them lumpy.
- Menopause- As you near your menopause, your hormone level keeps altering, making your breast feel tender and lumpy than before. After menopause, your hormone levels drop, and you stop having any lumps.
What Step Should You take If You Spot Any Symptom?
Anyone who notices any changes in the breast without any apparent reason should visit a doctor before the symptoms worsen, mainly if the symptoms occur only on one breast.
How Can One Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Have control over your processed food eating habits
- Follow a healthy diet
- Follow a healthy sleep pattern
- Breastfeed your children as long as possible
It is recommended all women self-examine their breasts once a month. The most suitable time to do a breast self-exam is a few days after your monthly menstrual cycle ends, and keep a journal of your self-exams. This will help you trace and identify any changes you have seen in your breasts. One should immediately get to a doctor if you notice any symptom without any postponement. Most changes do not indicate cancer, but it is always worthwhile to get it checked. Dr Kausthub Desikachar wishes all the women a very good health.
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