About 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Even though breast cancer can run in the family, 8 out of 9 who are diagnosed will be the first in their family to get the disease. It’s vital for women and men to understand symptoms and risk to be vigilant about getting anything suspicious diagnosed early.
Typical symptoms of breast cancer can include:
- Any unusual changes in breast shape, size, skin texture
- Hard lump in the breast
- Change in skin texture, pore enlargement like orange peel
- Bloody discharge from the nipple
- Changes in the shape of the breast
- Changes in the texture of the nipple
- Unusual fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Unexplained weight loss
- Nipple becomes turned or inverted
- Change in symmetry of the breasts
How can you monitor your breast health?
- Breast Self-Exams – 40% of breast cancers are initially discovered from breast self-exams. At least once a month, preferably not during your cycle, examine your breast and note any changes. If you detect changes, see your physician right away. Breast exams work well in the shower, in front of a mirror and lying down.
- Mammography – Depending on your age and your risk stratification, your physician will recommend mammography screenings to help with early detection. Mammograms can detect a lump before it can be felt. LLUMC-Murrieta provides 3-D mammography which detects cancer earlier with clearer images.
- Clinical Exam – Your physician can give you a clinical examination that can help you understand your breasts and detect any changes or lumps.
- Ultrasound – For some women an ultrasound may be ordered by your physician.
What if we find something?
- Your physician will order additional tests that could include MRI, ultrasound and biopsy of the cells in the suspicious area.
- Most lumps are not cancerous but need to be noted and monitored.
Can I improve my odds against getting breast cancer?
Studies show that lifestyle, environment and genetics all play a role in cancer formation. Many studies are being done that show correlations to reductions in cancer to some lifestyle choices. Those include:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Daily exercise
- Diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables
- Reduction of use of alcohol, or avoidance of alcohol altogether
- Not smoking
- Stress management
- Quality sleep
References: National Breast Cancer Foundation; American Cancer Society; Mayo Clinic