What to look for to detect breast cancer as soon as possible
Everyone’s breasts are different, and yours change throughout your life. Sometimes though, certain changes may be signs of cancer or another illness. It’s important to know what these changes can look like. The earlier you notice them, the easier it can be for your doctor to diagnose and treat them. Knowing some of the first signs of breast cancer may help you see changes in your body to discuss with your doctor.
A lump that appears in your breast is one of the most common early signs of breast cancer. Breasts can have a naturally bumpy texture. This is especially true in younger people because their breast tissue is denser. You might feel lumps in your breasts that aren’t anything to worry about. You might also check your breasts and find something a doctor should look at. You may feel:
- A hard lump that feels like a pebble
- Something inside your breast that feels different from before
- An area of your breast that feels different from the other tissue
If you discover these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. They can do tests to determine the cause of lumps or abnormal areas you find.
Fluid coming from one or both of your nipples usually isn’t something to worry about — especially if you’re breastfeeding. Discharge can be your body’s natural reaction when you squeeze your nipples. In some cases, it’s a warning sign of breast cancer. You might notice discharge that:
- Looks bloody or milky
- Only comes from one breast
- Leaks even when you don’t squeeze your breast
Let your doctor know if you experience these types of nipple discharge. They can be signs of a health condition other than breast cancer, too. Your doctor can diagnose the condition and help you learn what treatment you might need.
The way your breasts look and feel on the outside can change in the early stages of breast cancer. You’ll often notice these changes simply by looking at your breasts. Or, one of your breasts might feel different than it usually does inside. These changes are common early signs of breast cancer:
- Swelling in one or both breasts
- Raised veins showing through breast skin
- A sore or rash on your breast skin or nipple
- Constant pain in a specific area of your breast
- Red, darkened, dimpled or puckered breast skin
- One or both of your nipples pointing back towards your body, or inverting
If you see these changes in your breasts, it doesn’t mean you have cancer. But it’s still important to visit your doctor to find out exactly what’s happening.
Noticing signs and symptoms
Are you interested in playing an active role in maintaining your breast health? Knowing these early symptoms is a great start. It’s also important to become familiar with what your breasts usually feel like. That way, it’s easier to tell when something has changed. One way to do this is by learning to give yourself a monthly breast exam at home. You’ll feel and visually examine your breasts to note anything your doctor should look at. Doing a breast self exam is easy and takes just a few minutes each month. This small investment of time is a big investment in your health.
Taking better care of yourself by focusing on your breast health is one of the most positive wellness goals you can have. We’re here to provide the caring support you need along your journey. If you’re at all concerned about your breast health, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your primary care physician. Reach out to our team today and we’ll connect you with a caring, compassionate physician near you.