Health, Well-being

3 Warning Signs You Should Be Screened For Breast Cancer

Second only to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. Although women are encouraged to perform routine breast exams on themselves monthly, many women still will not find out that they have breast cancer until they are tested by their doctor. Additionally, the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 2,500 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Since the number of diagnosed cases of breast cancer is so high, it is important that you know a few basic breast cancer prognostics to decrease your risk of developing malignant breast cancer. You can decrease your chances of developing breast cancer by simply being screened by your doctor. Doctors perform screenings to detect health conditions before a patient shows symptoms of a problem. Since early screening and detection are pivotal for successful treatment, be aware of the following three warning signs that you or someone you love should be screened by your doctor for breast cancer.

Swelling

Although the majority of women who experience breast swelling are breastfeeding mothers with mastitis, swelling can also be a warning sign of breast cancer. It is not to be confused with a distinct lump. Swelling indicates inflammation, which could be caused by an undetectable lump. Swelling that is accompanied by itching, rash, redness, or pain should be seen by a doctor immediately. Keep in mind that swelling can occur in all of the breast or in only part of it and can also appear around or near the underarm.

Nipple Discharge

In many instances, nipple discharge is not a cause for worry. Most discharge that nursing mothers experience is perfectly normal, and many women experience minor discharge just before their monthly cycle. However, you should not ignore any discharge that occurs suddenly and without any apparent reason. If the discharge is bloody, you could have a more serious issue. You will also want to note if the discharge occurs with or without pressure to the breast or nipple. If you experience discharge without squeezing the nipple, call your practitioner. Additionally, experiencing discharge from only one breast could be a signal from your body that you have breast cancer.

Lumps

Lumps are probably the most common and obvious symptom of breast cancer; however, most lumps that women between the ages of 20 and 50 have tested are noncancerous. Women can experience lumps on their breasts for a number of reasons. Hormonal changes and changes in breast tissue (which both occur regularly and often throughout a woman's life) are the primary causes of lumps in the breast. Breast infections and medicines can also cause benign lumps in the breast. If you detect a lump that does not go away soon after your monthly cycle or soon after you complete a round of medication, you should have it tested. Keep in mind that breast cancer lumps are typically asymmetrical and firm to the touch. They are usually painless as well. Like swelling, lumps can also appear near or around the armpit. However, if you discover a lump, it might or might not follow these typical symptoms. Speak with your doctor about being screened so that you can know for certain.

If you have breast cancer, you might not experience symptoms right away. This is the reason that breast cancer screening is vitally important. Although these three symptoms can be present with other breast infections and do not necessarily indicate cancer, they are all warning signs that you should see your doctor for a possible infection.

It is also worth noting that not all women experience all of these symptoms and that you could experience some, all, or none at all. Breast cancer does not discriminate, so know the warning signs of breast cancer and be screened by your healthcare professional. Only then can you know for certain if your symptoms are the result of breast cancer.

Profile photo of Georgia Gables

Mother. Survivor.