Breast cancer is one of the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among women. It is one of the most treatable cancer also. Hence if you are aware of your breasts and check them regularly, cancers of breasts can be detected and treated early and easily. Breasts are different in each woman. They also change cyclically throughout your menstrual cycle and with age also. You should examine your breasts regularly so that you are aware of the normal looking breasts and if any deviation from normal occurs, then you are well aware of the same. If there is any unusual change, then you can get yourself examined by your doctor. Various symptoms of cancer of breasts are as follows-
Lump- Lump in the breast is usually the first symptom in cases of cancer. But most women have lumps which are benign. Lump can be felt either in the breast, upper chest or armpit. There can be an unusual thickening of the breast tissue or pain also. Mostly cancer lump is hard, painless and with irregular margins. Cancer can also be tender, soft and rounded. So it is always better to get it checked by a qualified doctor if you feel anything unusual in your breast.
Skin texture- Any change in the texture of skin like swelling, redness, thickening of skin can be an indication of cancer. Dimpling, puckering of skin or pitting of skin are strong indicators that you visit your doctor.
Change in appearance of breast or nipples- If there is a change in size or shape of the breast, one breast appears lower or higher than other or suddenly your clothes do not fit, you should see a doctor. Nipples may become inverted, puckered or point in a different direction.
Nipple discharge- Any unusual discharge from one or both nipples points towards cancer. Discharge could be watery, yellowish or bloody in nature. In case of discharge, immediately get it checked.
Rash or crust on the nipple and surrounding area- If you feel that a rash is not going or the skin is crusting, then could be there is a lurking cancer underneath.
Other symptoms –
Irritated or itchy breasts
Change in breast color
Increase in breast size
Change of shape
Feeling hard, tender and warm
Peeling or flaking of nipple skin
Redness of skin
Pitting of breast skin like skin of an orange peel
The best way is to be aware of your breasts. You should look and touch your breasts regularly and get them checked at regular intervals to detect any abnormality on time. If you have a family history of breast cancer in a first degree relative like mother, sister, aunt or grandmother go for regular screening tests as per recommendation.