Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. The majority of sufferers are women, although breast cancer can occasionally affect men. While women of any age can develop the disease, around eighty percent of all women diagnosed with breast cancer are over fifty years of age. Knowing the early warning signs and examining your breasts regularly could save your life, as early diagnosis increases your chances of beating the disease.
Changes to one or both of your breasts could be an indicator of breast cancer. These changes could include an increase or decrease in the size of one or both of your breasts, a change in shape or a change in the way your breasts feel. Get to know your breasts and become familiar with how they look and feel, as this will help you to recognise when something changes.
Pain in your breast, particularly if it is only experienced on one side, could also be a warning sign. Any kind of pain, discomfort or change in sensation should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible. Most women will experience breast pain at some time in their lives, particularly before a period, during pregnancy and after childbirth, but if there is no obvious cause of breast pain, you should consult a health professional.
An unexplained lump on or around the breast or armpit could be a cause for concern, and should be checked by a health professional as soon as possible. Conducting regular self-examinations of your breasts is the best way to spot lumps early. Check your armpits, breasts and area around the breasts for lumps once a month. Try to conduct your examinations at the same point in your menstrual cycle each month, as breasts may feel different during certain times of your cycle.
During your breast examination, pay particular attention to any changes to the skin on or around the breasts. Reddening of the skin, puckered or dimpled skin could be a sign of breast cancer. Thick patches of skin could also be a cause for concern. Knowing how your breast skin usually feels will help you to recognise any changes or unusual sensations.
Unexplained changes to the nipple could also be a sign of cancer. Discharge from the nipple, an unexplained rash or a change in the size, shape or position of the nipple should be reported to a health professional as soon as possible. Nipples can look and feel different at certain times of the month, but if the changes last longer than a couple of days, you should see your doctor.
Early diagnosis of breast cancer gives you the best chance of successful treatment. Regular breast self-examinations are the key to spotting the early warning signs of breast cancer. Tell your doctor about any changes as soon as you notice them, as this will ensure the best possible treatment options.