breast cancer symptoms
What am i looking for?
by Jamal Ross
Breast cancer may present in a variety of ways, yet our goal is to detect breast cancer before symptoms begin. In fact, most breast cancers are discovered when a woman has no symptoms. Nonetheless, up to 15% of woman will have breast cancer without a mass found on mammogram. Additionally, another 30% of woman may have a mass found between mammograms. Knowing the signs of breast cancer is an extra step you can step to help know if you at risk for this disease.
Self-breast exams are still important. A self-breast exam not only involves checking for lumps in your breast, but also visual inspection. The classic symptoms of breast cancer involve a hard, immovable mass with boarder that feels irregular. There may also be bloody nipple discharge. It is also important to look for breast asymmetry and dimpling of skin. At times these changes are best seen with your hands above your head. It is also important to feel under your arms for any hard masses as breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes, which are localized immune center and drainage centers, under your arms. When breast cancer has caused skin dimpling or you find knots under your arms, this is called locally advance disease and you should see you doctor as soon as possible.
When breast cancer has spread to other areas of the body, the symptoms will depend on the location of the disease. If disease has spread to the bone, a woman may experience back or leg pain. If the lungs are involved, you may experience cough or shortness of breath. Women with disease in the liver may experience abdominal pain or jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin.
Although mammogram is a great screening tool for detecting breast cancer, there are instances where a mammogram can miss breast cancer. Therefore, it remains important to perform self-breast exams and know the signs of breast cancer. If you are concerned about your symptoms and find irregularities on your self-breast exam, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible.
Breast Cancer Series
1. Esserman LJ, Shieh Y, Rutgers EJ, Knauer M, Retèl VP, Mook S, Glas AM, Moore DH, Linn S, van Leeuwen FE, van ‘t Veer LJ. Impact of mammographic screening on the detection of good and poor prognosis breast cancers. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Dec;130(3):725-34. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1748-z. Epub 2011 Sep 4. PMID: 21892702; PMCID: PMC5646368.