Breast Cancer: The Early Detection & Signs That You Need To Recognize
September 21, 2021
How much do you really know about your breasts? Will you be able to detect the slightest change in them because that ability just might be what saves you from breast cancer.
Treating cancer of all types depends largely on when it was detected. When it comes to breast cancer, it usually doesn’t show very evident symptoms at the early stages but timely detection can increase the chances of survival to a large extent. This is where the importance of regular breast cancer screening comes in. Regular screening is extremely crucial even when you don’t have any discomfort or pain. It will allow you to stay ahead of the disease and treat it before it becomes complicated.
Apart from regular screening, you know that a visible lump is a siren for getting checked. However, are you aware of the other signs that you should be aware of? Here are the signs to look for.
- A lump or mass on the breast
- Discharge from the nipple
- Lump in the armpit
- Any kind of changes on the skin in and around your breast
- Nipple that turns inward
- Lump in and around the breast that is felt only when you press the surface
Often, by the time a lump becomes visible, cancer would have already been in your body for a while. To avoid this, it is advised to give yourself regular checks. Some people are also more prone to be affected by breast cancer than others. The risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Age: 40 years or above
- Women who take hormone replacement therapy post-menopause
- Late menopause
- Early menarche
- Nulliparous women
- Women who have never breastfed their kids
- Personal or family history of breast cancers or high-risk lesions
- Genetic factors like BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation.
- Exposure to high radiation during childhood.
- Urban/sedentary lifestyle
- Smoking and high alcohol intake
There are several ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Following a proper diet, change in lifestyle, avoiding hormone replacement therapies, limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, etc. can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women, in general. The women who are at higher risk of breast cancer are also recommended several precautionary treatment methods like chemo-prevention, prophylactic mastectomy, etc.
Types Of Screen Test:
The foremost precautionary step is a screen test. It helps in early detection, thus restricting the possibility of the lump becoming cancerous. There are three major screening methods.
This is recommended to all women after the age of 30 years. It should be done every month, best-advised 5-6 days after your menstruation starts.
How do I do a self-examination?
- Look at the breast and around the armpits in a mirror for any visible changes.
- Repeat step 1 with your arm raised.
- Repeat feeling your breasts and around your armpit lying down.
Feel your right breast with your left hand and vice-versa. Make sure you examine your breasts with the four fingers and not the inner palm. You also need to ensure that you never miss the armpit.
- Annual Examination
An annual examination is an examination conducted every year by a medical expert, like a gynaecologist. It is advised to women over 40 years. Women below 40 years are advised to take this examination once in 2 to 3 years.
A mammogram is a low radiation X-ray of the breast. Mammograms might be able to detect the lump even before it appears. It is advised to women over 40 years of age till the age of 60, done at least once a year.
Breast cancer is confirmed using a histopathology test. There are 4 stages of breast cancer, stage I being the earliest and stage IV being the advanced stage.
Breast cancer is curable, especially when detected early and that is why screening tests are important. Treatment methods differ from person to person. The treatment is offered based on age, stage of disease, etc. Only an oncologist, along with surgeons and other doctors, will be able to advise the right treatment protocol for a patient.
Breast cancer has a possibility of recurrence. For the same reason, it is important to conduct screening regularly and follow-up is mandatory. Follow-up is done once the breast cancer is treated and the chemotherapy is over. In the beginning, a follow-up test will be done every 3-6 months. If the results are consistent every time, the time period between each test will increase. The tests should continue for 5 years and if it comes clean every time, the patient can go back to normal annual screening methods.
It is important to consult a Breast specialist doctor in Bangalore as soon as you find anything out of the ordinary in and around your breast. Specialist Hospital has a strong oncology department that offers prevention screenings, initial screening diagnosis, and second opinion for treatment options. We provide the patients access to the best therapists and the latest treatment options, which includes clinical trials and specialised care to fight cancer. The highly skilled breast specialist doctors along with the use of the latest technology allow you to detect the condition at the earliest and receive effective treatment.