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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Symptoms & Self-Examination

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Symptoms & Self-Examination Can

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Although male breast cancer is very rare, it isn’t impossible. Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men and can usually be detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and skin surrounding the area.

Early detection is key. Monthly self-exams are important for becoming familiar with your breasts and checking for any abnormalities. If an irregularity is found, it should be inspected by a medical professional as soon as possible. Breast cancer may be diagnosed using a mammogram, ultrasound, or clinical exam.

John Hopkins Medical Center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” For instructions on how to conduct a self-exam at home, click here.

Symptoms of breast cancer may include:

A difference in how the breast or nipple feels:

  • Tenderness, thickness, or a lump in the nipple, breast, or underarm area
  • A change in the skin texture or an enlargement of pores in the skin of the breast (similar to the texture of an orange peel
  • A lump in the breast (Not all lumps are cancerous, but all lumps should be examined by a health care professional.)

A change in appearance:

  • Dimpling
  • Unexplained changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • Unexplained swelling or shrinking of the breast (especially if only on one side)
  • Recent asymmetry of the breasts (Although it is common for women to have one breast that is slightly larger than the other if the onset of asymmetry is recent, it should be checked.)
  • Inverted nipple
  • The skin of the breast, nipple or surrounding area becomes red, swollen, or scaly
  • Ridges or pitting on the breast resembling an orange peel

Any nipple discharge:

  • Particularly clear discharge or bloody discharge
  • Unless a woman is breastfeeding, a milky discharge is considered unusual and should be checked by her doctor. It’s important to note that this is not connected with breast cancer.

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. However, regular screenings are always important. Check-in with your doctor as soon a symptom is discovered so it can be professionally investigated.

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