Breast Cancer Awareness Month is held every October for the purpose of increasing awareness of the disease and encouraging women to get their annual screenings. This is especially important right now, as routine cancer screenings have dropped significantly due to COVID.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women who are 50-74 years old and are at an average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. Women who are 40-49 years old should talk to their doctor about when to start mammograms and how often. Mammograms are an important tool in early cancer detection.
5 Possible Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
In between your mammograms, you should do regular breast checks and watch for the potential signs of breast cancer. This way, you can alert VNA Health Group’s Children and Family Health Institute regarding Cancer Education and Early Detection (CEED) if you notice any changes. Let’s look at five potential warning signs of breast cancer.
1. Lumps and Masses
A lump or mass in the breast can be a sign of breast cancer. Most commonly, the lump will feel like a hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area. Keep in mind that some women have lumpier breasts than others, so this may be normal for you. Lumps that feel like the rest of your breast are generally not a cause for concern.
2. Nipple Discharge
Discharge from the nipple may or may not be serious. Liquid leaking from the breast is a normal reaction when the nipple is squeezed. Signs of a more serious condition include discharge that occurs only in one breast, discharge that occurs without squeezing the nipple or discharge that is bloody or clear.
3. Inverted Nipple
A retracted or inverted nipple turns inward. There can be a number of causes for this, including a type of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma. It’s important to get this checked out, as there could be inflammation, scarring or a tumor behind the nipple that is pulling it back.
4. Skin Rash
A skin rash on the breast can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). This is an aggressive form of breast cancer that affects the skin and lymph vessels of the breast. It does not usually cause lumps. An inflammatory breast cancer rash may look like clusters of insect bites and feel swollen, warm and itchy.
5. Breast or Nipple pain
Surprisingly, breast and nipple pain are not usually a sign of breast cancer. This type of pain is generally caused from hormones, menstruation or menopause. However, red, swollen and tender breasts should be seen by a medical professional because this could indicate inflammatory breast cancer or an infection.
Early Detection is Crucial for Breast Cancer Patients
Although these symptoms may indicate breast cancer, they can also be the result of other problems. This is why it’s important to schedule your screenings on time and contact your doctor if anything is amiss. Early detection can make all the difference in successfully diagnosing and treating your condition.