Identifying the early signs of breast cancer can significantly increase your chances of recovery and cure from this disease. Though many breast cancers are detectable only through a mammogram or other imaging studies, a significant number of early diagnoses have come as the result of patients recognizing one or more common breast cancer signs.
Recognizing the Early Signs of Breast Cancer
One of the more common signs is a lump or hardened area beneath the breast tissue. Lumps do not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. Many lumps are benign, meaning they are not cancer. In fact, many women may experience benign cysts, which often present as a lump in the breast. However, you should always contact a doctor as soon as you find one. Breast lumps can occur anywhere where breast tissue is located. Even small lumps on the sides of the breasts or close to the underarms should be examined by a healthcare provider.
Other early signs of breast cancer include:
- Dimpling, puckering, or pulling of the skin or nipple.
- Focal and persistent breast pain unrelated to existing conditions or usual premenstrual symptoms.
- Reddening or darkening of skin on the breast.
- Sudden imbalance in the size of breasts.
- Enlarged lymph nodes under your armpits.
Symptoms such as these do not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. As mentioned, lumps can be caused by cysts and other benign causes. Other symptoms can also be caused by health conditions besides breast cancer. However, to ensure you receive proper care, it is important to notify your physician immediately after recognizing one or more of these early signs of breast cancer to receive a diagnosis.
Finding the Early Signs of Breast Cancer
Performing a monthly breast self-examination can help you to find early signs of breast cancer. Women should begin monthly breast self-examination in their 20s and continue as long as they are in good health. We recommend annual screening mammography beginning at age 40 in women at average risk for breast cancer and possibly earlier in women at high risk. Monthly breast self-examination should be used to complement routine screening, not as an alternative.
As soon as you identify an unusual development in your breasts such as a lump or dimpling, seek immediate medical advice. Though the idea that you may have breast cancer can be a fearful proposition for anyone, the situation will not go away on its own. As mentioned early, in many cases, lumps are not cancerous, and it is better to know one way or another to determine a course of action.
Identifying the early signs of breast cancer is critical to ensuring early diagnosis and receiving optimal treatment. The earlier you detect possible breast cancer symptoms, the more likely that the cancer is small and contained to the breast. This often can allow healthcare providers to enact treatment methods that will remove the cancerous cells while keeping the breast intact.
To speak with a breast cancer specialist about how to identify the early signs of breast cancer, please call Breastlink at (714) 541-0101. Our breast cancer experts and doctors can guide you through the steps you need to take to accurately assess your breast health. We have several southern California locations with convenient appointment hours for individuals who would like to schedule an appointment with a breast cancer specialist.