October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, many women do not know how to recognize the warning signs of breast cancer. To promote awareness of this life-changing illness, here are some of the early warning signs of breast cancer.
Breast Lump or Mass
Breast cancer may be revealed by discovering a new breast lump or mass. While some lumps and masses can be benign, others may be malignant and should be checked by your healthcare provider. A breast mass that is hard and painless with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, though cancerous lumps can also be soft, tender, and round.
Some swelling of the breasts may occur naturally with your menstrual cycle. However, unusual swelling of part or all of one breast may be a symptom of breast cancer. Even if there is no distinct lump in association with the swelling, it should still be evaluated by your doctor.
Nipple discharge beyond normal lactation should not occur unless there is a physical problem. Should you experience this, it may be a sign of breast cancer and should be evaluated by your health care professional.
Nipple and Areola Changes
Breast cancer can also cause nipple and areola changes. For example, the nipples may retract (turn inward), or the nipple and areola skin may become red, scaly, and thick.
Skin Irritation, Dimpling, or Other Skin Changes
Another early warning sign of breast cancer is unusual changes to the skin of the breast and/or areola. Irritation, itching, dimpling, redness, scaliness, and skin thickening are examples of possible cancer symptoms.
Some women experience breast tenderness during their menstrual cycle. However, pain beyond this that occurs in the breast or nipple may be an early indicator of breast cancer. Report any unusual aches, pains, fluctuating discomfort, persistent pain, or even occasional throbbing to your doctor.
Angiogenesis is when the body builds new blood vessels. If angiogenesis occurs in the breasts, it could be a sign that the body is trying to build a new blood supply for developing breast tumors. Angiogenesis must be identified with thermography testing.
Patterns of Changes
Above all, anything outside the norm that occurs in your breasts may be an early warning sign of breast cancer. Be informed and stay on the lookout for patterns of changes.
Breast Reconstruction After Breast Cancer
While many of these indicators could be early warning signs of cancer, they do not automatically point to cancer. All women who observe these signs should speak to their doctors and undergo evaluations and tests to receive a proper diagnosis. If you have breast cancer and your doctor has determined that your treatment plan should include a mastectomy or double mastectomy to remove your cancerous breast tissue, take comfort in knowing that the results of such surgeries do not have to be permanent. Breast reconstruction can restore the breasts and provide emotional closure and healing for breast cancer patients.
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that can help women find emotional closure after undergoing a mastectomy or double mastectomy for their breast cancer treatment. To learn more, schedule your personal consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Conrad. To book your appointment, call 316-681-2227 or fill out our online contact form today.