10 Surprising Signs of Breast Cancer

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By now, you know your body pretty well. You know the curves, the sharp points and have looked at it in the bathroom mirror from about every angle possible (trying desperately not to pull a muscle while doing so!) And your breasts are no different.

You know their size, shape, level of perkiness and of course how well they look in that hot little red number you break out for date night. But do you have what physicians call “breast self-awareness”?  The doctors at Sarah Cannon HCA Midwest Health Cancer Network explain. “What this means is that we want patients to be aware of what’s normal for them and understand that if something is different, it’s important to see a doctor.”

This can go above and beyond the usual lumps and bumps we so often associate with breast cancer. This deadly disease can appear in many more ways.


1.  CHANGE IN BREAST SIZE

Most people have one breast that is slightly larger than the other, which is usually quite normal. But if you notice a significant difference in breast size that was never there before, then it is time to get it checked out by a board certified physician.


2.  DIMPLING OF THE BREAST SKIN

If the skin on the breast starts looking like the peel of an orange, get it evaluated. There is a name for this –– Peau d’orange, which is caused by a buildup of fluid and edema (swelling) in the breast. The skin of the breast may also appear pink, reddish purple, or bruised.


3.  WELTS OR SPOTS ON THE BREAST

If you notice a white or red colored mark on your breast that is new, don’t brush it off to a tight bra strap or that new bag you’ve been carrying. The spot may also itch or get larger, so don’t dismiss it as a bug bite if it doesn’t go away in a few days.


4.  BUMPS ON YOUR ARMPIT

While doing your monthly breast check, don’t forget to pay attention to your armpits as well. So many people concentrate on the front area of their chests, that they overlook their armpits. The tail of the breast extends up into this area, so it’s critical to make this a part of your self-exam routine. If you find a bump, don’t assume it is just an ingrown hair, get it looked at by your physician.


5.  A RASH

If there is an itchy, scaly area near the nipple, it’s easy to assume it’s an insect bite and easy to miss. Pay attention to it. If it doesn’t clear up with hydrocortisone or steroid cream, you need to get it looked at.



6.  FREQUENT BACK OR BONE PAIN

While there are several reasons you could be experiencing these symptoms, if they are new and persistent, it’s best to get a workup from your doctor. Cancer isn’t the usual suspect, but the experts at HCA encourage you to get into your doctor to discuss and evaluate further.


7.  NIPPLE DISCHARGE

Sometimes this is normal with both men and women, but if you experience it spontaneously and only from one breast, it’s time to get it checked out. Breast cancer can cause nipple discharge, especially ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early form of breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts. It can also happen with Paget disease of the breast, a rare type of breast cancer that involves the nipple. If you do have breast cancer, the discharge will probably only come from one breast. You’ll likely have a lump in your breast, too.


8.  SHORTNESS OF BREATH

Although breast cancer begins in the breast, if you begin having these symptoms it may mean that it has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs. So if you experience deep bone pain or shortness of breath, get to your doctor immediately, as this may mean you have advanced stage breast cancer.


9.  CHANGES IN WEIGHT

If you have lost or gained weight suddenly and have not changed your diet or are not on any kind of exercise program, it is best to get looked at by a physician. This could mean several things other than breast cancer, but a rapid change in weight could mean there is something systemic going on in your body that needs attention.


10.  A SORE SPOT

You’ve noticed a slight twinge or soreness in one breast that has never been present before and it’s not going away. If you have a specific area of pain that you can almost put your finger on, it’s time to give your doc a heads up.

As the doctors at Sarah Cannon HCA Midwest Health Cancer Network explain, not all women with breast cancer have signs or symptoms. Getting an annual mammogram greatly increases your chance of finding breast cancer in the early stages, when it is easier to beat.

For more information on Sarah Cannon HCA Midwest Health Cancer Network, please call 816.754.6741 or visit hcamidwest.com/service/cancer-care

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