How Can a Woman Tell If She Has Breast Cancer?

Cancer is inarguably among the diseases with the highest fatality rate. Well, as you might already know, breast cancer is the number one most common cause of death among women globally. As a matter of fact, it also affects a significant number of men annually. The good news is that it can be managed, treated, or even cured if caught early. This is why breast cancer awareness campaigns have become common around the world these days. In this piece, we will look at the various ways a woman can tell if she has cancer.

Screening and Self Exam

While various diagnostic tests and screenings are required to confirm that a person has cancer, some of the symptoms of breast cancer can be detected through a self-exam. As will be discussed below, this involves detecting irregularities like lumps, change in breast skin color, nipple discharge, and a wide range of other signs. Nonetheless, it is essential to get professional screening for breast cancer at least once annually. If the abnormal growth of cells is detected in one or both breasts, your oncologist will recommend the best treatment options to be considered depending on the severity of your issue. These may include breast surgery, breast reconstruction, AHT, mastectomy, and radiotherapy, among others. Some common tests or exams to expect may include the following:

  • Blood Tests
  • Mammography
  • Breast Ultrasound
  • Breast Biopsy
  • BRCA Genetic Testing

Now, let’s get back to the self-exam bit. Here are some signs that could indicate a woman has breast cancer.

1. Lump in the Breast

If you develop a breast lump as a woman, it should prompt you to visit the doctor. A breast lump is commonly associated with breast cancer among women. Whether it’s painless or not, ensure a doctor examines you and starts treatment as early as possible in case cancerous cells are detected.

2. Discoloration

As you grow old as a woman, the risk of breast cancer increases. Most cancers are found in women above 50 years. One of the early signs of breast cancer is a bruised discoloration on the breast. A small section of the breast may appear red, pink, or purple. If you have noticed a bruise on your breast from nowhere, don’t ignore it. Seek medical help as soon as possible.

3. Discharge

Discharge from the breast could also be an indicative sign of breast cancer in some people and thus should not be ignored. The discharge can appear thick or thin, clear, green, or red. Especially if it is coming from one breast or it occurs without squeezing, you might require seeing a doctor so they can rule out breast cancer.

4. Sudden Change in Size

Another tell-tale sign of breast cancer is a sudden enlargement or thickness in the appearance of your breast. The affected breast feels more heavy and hard. Also, the breast size might reduce in size.

5. Skin Dimpling

Another sign of breast cancer in women is the dimpling of the breast skin. It tends to look like the texture of an orange peel. This may be as a result of a fatty tissue that dies or gets damaged in the breast. A needle biopsy can be done on the dimpled area to confirm if it’s just breast fat necrosis or related to cancer. 

Dimpled skin is one of the common signs of breast cancer. Breast cancer is a mysterious disease. Sometimes in the initial stages, you can hardly detect it. It, therefore, becomes essential that as a woman, you attend screenings regularly for the doctor to detect the disease as early as possible.  

6. Lymph Node Changes

If you have been drinking alcohol as a woman, studies have shown that you might be at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. There are myriads of lymph nodes in the body. They act as filters of harmful substances, as well as aiding in fighting infections that enter the body through the help of the lymphatic fluid. Elevated changes in lymph nodes can be a sign of cancer.

7. Inverted Nipples of Rash 

If you notice an inverted nipple where the nipple is pulled into the breast instead of outwards, then you have a reason to worry. Consult your doctor for further examination as soon as possible. If you come across a rash on your breast, that resembles clusters of insect bites, don’t take it casually. Visit a doctor for a checkup.

8. Breast Pain and Swelling 

Pain, in most cases than not, is always associated with diseases. The breast can experience pain for various reasons. During menses, puberty also changes in breast tissue by hormones and so forth. The pain can be quite uncomfortable. Breast cancer alters the skin cells, which could cause pain and tenderness. It could also be accompanied by swelling. If you notice abnormal swelling on your breast when you are not on the menses, this might indicate breast cancer.

Finally, if one or more of your close relatives have had it, you might be at a high risk of developing breast cancer. The genes are mostly inherited from parents. Nonetheless, early detection through screening is always vital. It can save your life, thanks to the advanced treatments available today. In case you notice any of the above symptoms during a self-exam, do not panic. Many health issues share symptoms and signs, so it might not even be cancer. Just visit a medical specialist for a diagnosis and solution.