Breast cancer is a very common type of cancer among women. Usually it doesn’t cause any symptoms until it’s too late. That’s why there is a special screening program to detect breast cancer early. Even if you follow the recommended screening tests for breast cancer, it’s important to be aware of any changes in your breast, which may be an alarming symptom for breast cancer.
A mass in the breast: The most common alarming symptom of breast cancer is new palpable mass in the breast. Cancerous masses are usually painless, hard, and immobile. Keep in mind that not all breast masses are cancerous, but once you feel any new masses or one that is growing, it is essential that you consult your doctor as soon as possible.
New swellings around breast or armpit: Any swelling in the breast can be an indication of a very suspicious and aggressive type of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer, and still it can be normal! Swellings in the armpit may be caused by the spreading of breast cancer to the lymph nodes in the armpit. Palpable swelling in the armpit may be apparent before one feels a mass in the breast. You certainly have to consult your doctor once you feel any swelling in the armpit area.
Any changes in skin, redness or thickness: If you notice any change in the skin over your breast, you must consult your doctor as soon as possible. The important changes include any visible redness, peeling, or increase in thickness. Redness of the breast is most commonly associated with a breast infection known as mastitis. This is very common among women who breast feed. Mastitis is usually treated with antibiotics and pain killers; however, if there is no improvement within a week, this may raise the suspicion of an inflammatory breast cancer.
Itching on breast or hotness: Feeling hotness or itching over the breast may be a symptom of breast infection, or it may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.
Changes in the nipples: Changes in the nipple including shape, position, skin over it, becoming red with a scaly, thick appearance, or any other notable change could be associated as a symptom(s) for breast cancer. Don’t hesitate to contact your physician as soon as possible once you notice any of these changes in the nipple.
Discharge from the nipples: Any discharge from the nipple is an alarming symptom of breast cancer. It can be bloody, greenish, watery, or white. Most of the time, the discharge could be due to reasons other than cancer. However, you must consult with your physician to exclude the possibility of breast cancer.
Pain in the breast: Breast cancer is usually painless. It’s normal for a woman to have a mild to moderate pain in her breast just before her menstrual cycle. This is mainly related to a higher level of female hormones during this period. Infection of the breast or mastitis may cause sudden severe pain with inflammation of the breast and redness. In mastitis, the pain is not related to the time of the menstrual cycle.
If you have pain in your breast that is persistent or not related to your menstrual cycle, you must see your doctor a soon as possible. Any discharge from the nipple is an alarming symptom of breast cancer. It can be bloody, greenish, watery, or white. Most of the cases are benign, but the doctor must exclude the possibility of breast cancer first.
Physical activities and adopting a healthier lifestyle minimize the risk of breast cancer. It is commonly known that you can’t intervene or have control over some risk factors, such as family history as the risks are genetically passed in your DNA. However, you can take strong action toward cancer prevention by altering your habits and lifestyle. The following introduces ways to help achieve this goal:
Reduce Alcohol: Breast cancer is more likely to strike women who consume large quantities of alcohol, so it is advised to limit your intake to just one drink per day, regardless of the type of alcohol – wine, liquor, and beer.
Quit Smoking: Give up smoking instantly as evidence has been shown conclusively that there is a strong connection between breast cancer and smoking. In any case, smoking is nothing but bad news for everyone’s health, so try to stay away from it, especially if you are going through pre-menopause.
Weight Control: Obesity and excessive weight elevate the risk of breast cancer, especially if you are overweight after menopause. Try to keep your weight balanced.
Generate Activity: Include physical activities in your daily life. Through physical activities, you can control your weight and have a good chance of avoiding breast cancer. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it is recommended to add a 150-minute of aerobic activity or a 75-minute or more strenuous aerobic activity per week, if you are more fit and into sports. Additionally, you can benefit from strength training, which you can add twice in your weekly schedule.
Breast Feed: Breast feeding is considered another weapon against breast cancer, so try to breast feed your baby for as long as you can.
Reduce Hormone-Therapy: Breast cancer is triggered by hormone therapies, especially when taken for periods of longer than 3-5 years. In the event you are partaking in a hormone therapy due to menopausal symptoms, it is advised to ask your doctor for alternative options and non-hormonal therapies. Note that physical activities can help you achieve your goals. However, if there is a great necessity to have a short-term hormone therapy, you choose minimum doses.
Keep out of Environmental Pollution/Radiation: Stay away from any activity that exposes you to radiation, such as computerized tomography, or environmental pollution. Breast cancer risk is enhanced if you are exposed to high doses of radiation produced by medical-imaging methods.
Adopt a Healthy Diet: When it comes to breast cancer, it is proven that enriching your diet with vegetables and fruit will shield you against breast cancer, as well as other types of cancer and health issues, such as diabetes and heart diseases. On the other hand, adopting a low-fat diet has limited benefits to offer in that direction.
Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills appear to play an important role of increasing the risk of breast cancer especially in younger women. However, according to recent studies, women who have stopped using birth control pills after 10 years returned to the same level of risks for breast cancer as of those women that had never used them before. Studies also suggest that birth control pills are not directly related to breast cancer risk.
Be Attentive: Be alert and get medical advice as soon as you notice any suspicious sign or symptoms in your breast. The moment you notice any kind of change in your breasts, such as a change in the nipple, skin tone, or lumps, seek a medical advice. Make certain to start routine breast examinations such as mammograms and other related screenings test as recommended by your doctor.