Breast cancer is something that both women and men should be on the lookout for every day. If caught early, the rate of survival is much higher than if it’s found late. It’s important to catch cancer early because treating it quickly will prevent it from progressing to a much more dangerous stage of breast cancer.
For patients diagnosed with stage 0 or stage I breast cancer, the five-year survival rate is close to 100%. For women diagnosed with stage II breast cancer the five-year survival rate is about 93%. And women diagnosed with stage III breast cancer have a five-year survival rate of about72%. As cancer progresses through its various stages, it becomes harder and more invasive to treat.For example, stage IV breast cancers only have a five-year survival rate of about 22%.
While these rates can’t exactly predict what will happen to any one individual, it’s important to know that catching breast cancer early makes all the difference in a patient’s prospects. So, what should you be looking for? It’s not just about finding a mass. There are many signs and symptoms to look for: (2)
Know Your Lemons! How to Spot Breast Cancer Early
You should always check for lumps in your breasts, but if you find a thick mass near the skin, you should see your doctor immediately. Sometimes lumps are seen on a screening mammogram before it can be felt, so it’s important to have your regular screenings with your doctor. The mass may feel like it is attached to the skin or chest wall and cannot be moved. It may also feel hard, irregular in shape, and very different from the rest of the breast tissue. It may also be tender, but usually, it is not painful (3).
It’s very possible that the early stages of breast cancer could cause some breast indentation. If you notice a change in your breasts in this way consult your doctor immediately. It could be very subtle, but any indents could be an indication of the early signs of breast cancer (8).
There are often signs on the skin to indicate the presence of breast cancer. Any skin erosion or irritation should be investigated immediately. If you experience any skin erosion on the breast consult your doctor (8).
Redness or heat
If you experience any redness or heat on the breast, this could indicate inflammatory breast cancer and should be looked into right away. This might look like an infection or other illness but is also present with the onset of breast cancer (8).
Discharge from the nipples can be caused by many conditions, most of which are non-cancerous. However, discharge from one nipple may be a sign of breast cancer, especially if it appears without squeezing the nipple and is blood stained. If you experience any fluid coming from your nipple, it’s important that you seek medical attention (3).
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Dimples showing up on your breasts is another sign of the early onset of breast cancer. It might be very subtle and hard to notice, so you should be extra vigilant when inspecting your breasts. If you notice any dimpling on your breasts, you should go to your doctor immediately (7).
Perhaps more obvious as an indication of cancer, is if you find a bump on your breasts. You should investigate every bump that you find on your breasts and run it by your doctor as soon as possible.
If you notice that the veins in your breasts have increased in prominence or look particularly stressed, this could be an indication of the early onset of breast cancer. Changes in veins can be a sign that cancer is blocking a blood vessel (4).
This condition can be the result of inflammation or scarring of the tissue behind the nipple and can be caused by a number of things, not just cancer. But in the case of breast cancer, nipple retraction happens when the tumor attacks the duct behind the nipple, pulling it in. You should report this to your doctor immediately when you notice this (5).
New shape or size
Any changes in shape or size should be cause for a doctor visit. In the early stages of breast cancer, the breasts can go through a variety of changes including adopting a new shape or changing in size. So you should inspect yourself often to have a proper understanding of what your body is usually like.
Orange peel skin
An indication that breast cancer is starting is if the skin takes on an orange peel-like appearance. It should be quite noticeable, but it could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. Any changes in your breast that look like this should be investigated with your doctor (6).
This is the reason you should receive regular mammograms because the lump can be invisible and hard to detect with self-examinations. But a cancerous lump is often hard and immovable like a lemon seed.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
It’s important to note that breast thermography is not a replacement for or alternative to mammography or any other form of breast imaging. Breast thermography is a risk assessment tool that is meant to be used in addition to mammography and other tests or procedures.
All thermography reports are meant to identify thermal emissions that suggest potential risk markers only and do not in any way suggest diagnosis and/or treatment. Studies show that the earliest detection is realized when multiple tests are used together. This multimodal approach includes breast self-examinations, physical breast exams by a doctor, mammography, ultrasound, MRI, thermography, and other tests that may be ordered by your doctor.
(1) Pop sugar. What breast cancer can look and feel like. https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Breast-Cancer-Can-Look-Feel-Like-Photo-42985067 Published: January 16, 2017. Accessed: January 23, 2017.
(2) Cancer.org. Breast cancer survival rates https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/understanding-a-breast-cancer-diagnosis/breast-cancer-survival-rates.html Accessed: January 23, 2017.
(3) Canadian Cancer Society. signs and symptoms of breast cancer http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/breast/signs-and-symptoms/?region=bc Accessed: January 23, 2017.
(4) Mail Online. The breast cancer danger signs many haven’t heard of: Women need to be vigilant about subtle skin texture changes http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3201436/Breast-cancer-danger-signs-haven-t-heard-Women-need-vigilant-subtle-skin-texture-changes.html Published: August 15, 2015. Accessed: January 23, 2017.
(5) Breast Cancer News. Nipple Retraction https://breastcancer-news.com/nipple-retraction/ Accessed: January 23, 2017.
(6) Breastcancer.org. Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/types/inflammatory/symptoms Accessed: January 23, 2017.
(7) Healthline. Skin Dimpling: Is It Breast Cancer? http://www.healthline.com/health/breast-cancer-dimpling#1 Accessed: January 23, 2017.
(8) WebMD. Breast Cancer symptoms http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/guide/understanding-breast-cancer-symptoms Accessed: January 23, 2017.
(9) Youtube. What lemons can teach us about breast cancer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6QhuK8U_as Published: January 16, 2017. Accessed: January 23, 2017.
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