Every year, more women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Statistics show that on the average, 1 out of 8 women can have the illness. The good news, however, is that it can actually be treated. At present, there are significantly more breast cancer survivors than there were 10 or 20 years ago. Aside from medical breakthrough, the reason for this increase is early detection. As soon as we see any of the breast cancer symptoms, we should seek medical help immediately.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the uncontrollable or abnormal growth of cells in the breast. When cell growth can no longer be controlled, the cells spread and affect other healthy cells. It may start at the lobules, ducts, or tissues and vessels in the breast. Basically this is how breast cancer cells behave.

The problem is, not all breast cancers are easy to detect. Of course, if you have any of the risk factors of breast cancer, then you will most likely develop the illness. But even so, there is no hard and fast rule with regard to breast cancer symptoms. Feeling pain in the breast may not necessarily be cancer. Some tumors, although apparent, are actually benign or harmless. On the other hand, a simple rash may be cancer. Nonetheless, it is still wise to at least be familiar with the symptoms just in case the tumors are evident.

What are the breast cancer symptoms?

Every woman knows how a breast should normally look like. Breasts should be its usual size, contour and color, free of any distortion or swelling. Here are the things to watch out for:

- Lump, thickening or mass that you may feel when you gently press your fingers flat on the breast surface. This is detected during a breast exam.

- Swelling or redness or change in color of the breast.

- Change in the shape, or distortion of the breast, or if a breast grows noticeably bigger than the other. It is not necessary that breasts be perfectly symmetrical, but if you notice one breast grows larger over a period of time, then it is time to see a doctor.

- Dimpling or ridges on the skin, as well as rash or scaled skin.

- Inverted nipple or that which is pushed inward or has changed position.

- Nipple discharge, whether colorless, milky, yellow or blood discharge.

Men can also have breast cancer, although rarely. The symptoms are the same as that for women. Other symptoms for male breast cancer are nipple pain, nipple and areola sores and enlarged lymph nodes.

If you see any of the symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

What screening tests are available?

It is advised for women from age 20 up to do a monthly personal breast check. Once this practice becomes habitual, you will become more familiar with your breasts, making the symptoms more obvious if they arise. Consult a doctor for the proper procedure of breast inspection, or you can visit websites which feature the steps to a breast examination. If you are not sure of how to do the exam yourself, you can undergo a clinical breast exam. Here, the doctor does the checking for you. A doctor can find lumps that you may miss during a self-exam.

Apart from self-examination, women are also advised to undergo screening tests such as mammograms to know if you have cancer, even if the symptoms are not present. Mammography is a procedure to detect or screen as well as diagnose cancer, if symptoms are present. There are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic. Women at age 40 are advised to take mammograms annually. Other screening tests such as MRI scanning and ultrasound may also be taken, depending on the age and risk factors, and upon the doctor’s advice.

So the next time you do a breast self-exam, or just stare at your breasts, you know what your breasts should and shouldn’t look like. Once a symptom is noticeable, it’s time to see a doctor. Do not be afraid to do so, because, sooner or later, you will still need to see one, but better make it sooner before it’s too late. Knowing the breast cancer symptoms can actually save you, as cancer can be cured if detected early.

By: Nathalie Fiset

About the Author:
For more information on breast cancers and their solutions, please visit:

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