What Is Breast Cancer? – Symptoms
Breast cancer is a tumor that starts in the breast or the tissue around it. This may be due to a change in normal cells or may be caused by another type of tumor. It also may be caused by a problem with hormones, genetic mutations, environmental factors, or some combination of these and other causes.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 2018 more than 235,000 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die from it. In addition, approximately 2,300 women will develop noninvasive breast cancer (carcinoma in situ). These numbers are expected to increase as a result of the aging of the population. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women over the age of 60 years.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease of the breast tissue or mammary gland. The mammary glands are two small tubes that extend from the breastbone to the nipple. They are filled with milk when the baby suckles at the mother’s nipple.
While the mammary glands produce milk, they also have a fluid of cells and substances that serve several purposes.
In the case of breast cancer, the cells in the breast grow and become cancerous. This results in the formation of lumps or masses.
Breast cancer often begins as a lump or mass. These lumps are not always painful, but seeing a doctor is a good idea if they become painful or change in size.
How do you know if you have breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease that affects many women, and some people don’t realize they have it until it’s too late. Knowing the signs and symptoms is important to catch it early.
If you have any of these, you should see a doctor. They might recommend a mammogram.
- Symptoms include:
- Painful breasts
- Nipple discharge
- Changes in menstrual bleeding
- Persistent pain
- A lump in your armpit
- Pain in your chest
- Breast enlargement
- A lump in your neck
- Bleeding between periods
Here are the tests and screenings you should be familiar with.
A mammogram is a test performed on the breasts to detect cancer before it can spread.
This is a test that you can do on your own. The goal is to check for lumps and other signs of problems, as well as for a change in the shape or size of your breast.
An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to create images of the internal structures of your body. It can detect whether your breast contains fluid, cysts, or a lump.
A breast MRI is a test that uses magnets, radio waves, and a computer to create images of the inside of your breasts. It’s useful for detecting changes in the tissue, such as abnormal growths, scar tissue, and inflammation.
A breast biopsy is a test that can determine whether cells found in a suspicious breast area are cancerous.
Your doctor will usually perform a self-exam and possibly a breast exam. These are the most common signs of breast cancer:
• A lump
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• A hard mass
• Swelling in the armpit or underarm area
• Nipple discharge that is thicker than normal
• Change in size, shape, or position of the nipple
• Skin changes such as thickening, peeling, or discoloration
• Pain in the chest, back, shoulder, or arm
• Chest pain
• Difficulty swallowing
• Swelling in the jaw, face, neck, or throat
You can get a mammogram to check for lumps, and your doctor may perform a breast exam.
Breast self-exams and exams are only part of the equation. The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening for women ages 50 to 74. Women with higher risk factors, such as a history of breast cancer, genetic mutations, and certain medical conditions, should speak with their healthcare provider to determine whether further screening is needed.
Frequently asked questions about Breast Cancer.
Q: What symptoms of breast cancer should I watch for?
A: Watch for any change in your breasts, as this may be a sign of breast cancer. If you notice any lumps, redness, or swelling of the skin around your nipples or areola (the area where the nipple meets the breast), contact your physician immediately.
Q: What are the different types of breast cancers?
A: There are three main types of breast cancers: invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, and invasive mucinous carcinoma.
Q: Which type of breast cancer is most common in women my age?
A: Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer in women my age (i.e., 40-49).
Q: What does a mammogram look like?
A: A mammogram looks like a photo of your breasts with small dots placed over the image.
Top Myths about Breast Cancer
1. Breast cancer is a disease that only affects women.
2. Breast cancer only occurs in women over 50.
3. A lack of breast tissue causes breast cancer.
You can find information about breast cancer symptoms here: https://www.cancer.org/about-cancer/causes-prevention/breast/what-is-breast-cancer.html.
There is a wide range of symptoms associated with breast cancer. Some people have a lump in their breasts that lasts for months. Others have nodes that are painless and only show up after a mammogram. Still, others have no symptoms at all.
When you lump your breast, seeing a doctor is important. The first step is to go to the emergency room. This may be done in an urgent care center or an emergency room.
For example, you need to see a doctor immediately if you notice a hard, round lump that doesn’t go away. A doctor may perform a physical examination to look for other symptoms and check your health history.