Breast Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis.
It is the four words we dread hearing: “You have breast cancer.” Although scary, these days, breast cancer is becoming more treatable and we celebrate the survivors and are inspired by their stories. Knowing the symptoms of breast cancer is important whether woman or man, since men can develop breast cancer too. Early detection of breast cancer is always the goal. So, to know the symptoms of breast cancer and what to expect if indeed, you are diagnosed, can help you be proactive and take away the fear.
Here are signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and what to expect if you are diagnosed.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Because many women have recognized the importance of mammograms and self breast exams, most breast cancer is discovered early on, before a woman feels any symptoms. And make no mistake, as hectic as life gets, all it takes is a few minutes to do a self breast exam and get on the phone to make that mammogram appointment.
- You may find a lump in the armpit area or upper part of the collarbone that does not disappear. This could be breast cancer and you need to see the doctor.
- Discharge coming from the nipple, nipple inversion or skin changes on the breast. Breast discharge alone is common and does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. But, it’s best to check in with your physician.
- Changes in the skin of your breast that cause suspicion are puckering, redness or changes in the texture. In addition, swelling combined with redness is a reason to make the appointment, and soon, as the symptoms could be that of a breast infection.
Diagnosis of Breast Cancer: The Process
- If a mammogram looks suspicious, your physician will likely perform an ultrasound or set you up with an MRI. A biopsy may be performed, as this technique is the best way to know for sure if you have breast cancer.
- While good, mammograms can show “false positives” or miss a cancerous mass. Studies show that mammography misses about 10-to-15 percent of cancerous tumors.
- The ultrasound is used to further explore the nature of a suspicious lump. The waves of the ultrasound shows what the breast looks like inside and can determine whether the lump contains fluid or is solid (suspected cancer).
- Biopsies, in short, involve taking a piece of the suspected tissue or cells to submit to a pathologist for study. As said earlier, this is the only way to know for sure if you have breast cancer.
Are you getting your mammograms and doing self breast exams? If not, you need to start! Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!