For many women probably the first symptom of breast cancer is finding a lump in one of their breasts. This, however, is not necessarily a cause for immediate alarm as around 90% of breast lumps found are benign, which means that they are non-cancerous. It is important to know, however, that this can only be ascertained by a doctor and a woman that finds a lump in her breast should seek immediate medical advice.
In general, breast cell change causing lumpiness is more obvious just prior to a period – especially in women over the age of 35 – and is normally indicative of benigness. Women might also notice such things as a change in either the size or shape of the breast or nipple, especially if the nipple sinks into the breast or takes on an irregularity of shape. Any blood-stained discharge from the nipple or any rashes either on or around the nipple should also be immediately examined by a health care professional.
Of course it is important to realize that if you have one of these signs it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have cancer, but you should seek medical advice to be on the safe side. Women should also be concerned about any swelling or lumps in the armpit region, as this can be a sign that the cancer has actually spread to the lymph nodes. There may also be changes in the skin, including dimpling of the skin along with new wrinkling.
There is also a rare type of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer, and this type of cancer can present with different symptoms whereby the entire breast can present with red inflammation and may also be extremely sore – either to the touch or when left alone. The breast itself may also feel hard to the touch, with the skin sometimes resembling an orange peel due to the fact that the pores stand out where the inflammation occurs.
Also, with regards to the previously mentioned rash, this can sometimes signify another rare form of cancer when the rash presents around the nipple. This form is called Paget’s disease, and the rash is red and scaly and can also itch. On first sight, it may resemble eczema and is, in fact, sometimes at first mistaken for this.
In general terms experiencing breast pain is not something to be overly concerned about, although it may signify some other condition that requires some medical attention. A lot of perfectly healthy women find that their breasts are tender and sore during their period, and this is no further cause for concern or a mark of anything portentous as women can experience sore breasts from time to time without any sinister underlying cause. Most breast pain is not a result of cancer, however some breast cancers can cause pain so it is important to see your GP as soon as possible for a quick diagnosis. As ever, early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to a successful recovery, so medical help should be sought in case of any concerns.