Health and Fitness

Breast Cancer – Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Breast cancer has become increasingly common in the last couple of years, even more than ever. Every year, the number of people who have breast cancer has increased significantly. For this reason, it is crucial to take care of the breasts and be on the lookout for any uncommon signs and symptoms that you notice in your breasts.

You should visit your nearest private GP practice for medical appointments, diagnosis and treatment.

Common breast cancer signs and symptoms to look out for

For people who are not aware of the signs of breast cancer, it can be hard for them to know the exact symptoms to look out for. Below are common symptoms that you should report immediately to your doctor if you notice them on or in your breast

  • A change to the skin of the breast, such as puckering or dimpling
  • A change in the colour of the breast. The breast may be looking inflamed or red
  • A lump or swelling in the breast, in the armpit or the upper chest. The lump may not be visible, but you will feel it when you touch it
  • A change in the appearance of the nipple. It may look like it has been pulled in or inverted
  • Change in the size and shape of the breast
  • A rash or crusting around the nipple
  • An unusual liquid discharge coming out from either of the nipples

How to check your breasts

The key to fighting cancer and other diseases is detecting them early and treating them or getting rid of them completely. The same applies to breast cancer. By checking your breasts regularly, it will be easier to detect any unusual sign that will be evaluated and diagnosed.

Checking your breast will only take a couple of minutes and can be beneficial in the long run. You do not need a special technique or procedure to check your breast, neither do you need to undergo special training for it. To check the breast, you would have to check the whole breast area, including the upper chest and armpits. The simple procedure of checking the breast is referred to as TLC, and this means Touch Look Check

  • Touch your breasts. Do you feel anything unusual?
  • Look for changes that were not there. Does anything look different?
  • Check for any changes with your GP or General Practitioner

Why do breasts hurt?

It is common for women of all ages to have breast pain. When the breast feels sore, tender or painful, it can cause anxiety in the woman and may leave her wondering if anything is wrong. Typically, breast pain is usually not a sign of breast cancer. For most women, breast pain is part of the normal menstrual cycle or period, called cyclical breast pain.

Prolonged breast pain that is not related to the monthly periods is referred to as non-cyclical breast pain. In some cases, the pain feels like it is coming from somewhere else, like a pulled muscle in the chest. This type of pain is called chest wall pain.

Cyclical breast pain

Most women feel discomfort, lumpiness and other problems a week or so before their period. Cyclical breast pain is one of such discomfort. The pain varies from person to person, meaning that it can be mild in some people and severe in others. When they feel such pain, the breast becomes sore and tender to touch. Some other experiences may include heaviness of the breast, tenderness, burning, prickling or stabbing pain, or a feeling of tightness in the chest.  Both breasts are usually affected, but in some cases, only one can be affected. The pain can also spread to the armpit, shoulder blade and down the arm.

Cyclical breast pain is linked to changes in hormone levels due to the menstrual cycle. Often, the pain disappears when the period starts. In some women, the pain can go away on its own, but it can come back in some cases.

Usually, the pain stops after menopause. However, some women who are taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can experience breast pain. In some cases, breast pain is experienced in women taking or changing contraception that contains hormones.

Managing cyclical breast pain                             

The strategies that help control cyclical breast pain include exercise, stress reduction and avoiding alcohol. Taking vitamin D supplements, starflower oil and staying away from topical inflammatory gels can also relieve the pain.

The cause of non-cyclical breast pain is often unclear; however, it can be related to the following;

  • Having large breasts
  • A benign breast condition (not cancer)
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Previous surgery to the breast
  • Injury to the breast
  • The side effect of a drug treatment like certain antidepressant drugs or herbal remedies

If you are experiencing breast pain not linked to your menstrual period, you should immediately see your doctor. You can also visit here if you want an online doctor appointment.

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