Health Matters Fall 2022 - Page 6

Knowing your body
Signs and symptoms

Potential warning signs for breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women across the globe . According to the World Cancer Research Fund International , there more than 2.26 million new cases of breast cancer in women in 2020 . Such figures are sobering , but it ’ s important to recognize that breast cancer survival rates have improved dramatically in recent decades , providing hope to the millions of women who may be diagnosed with the disease in the years to come .
Various factors have helped to improve breast cancer survival rates , and education about the disease is certainly among them . Women are their own greatest allies against breast cancer , and learning to spot its signs and symptoms is a great first step in the fight against this potentially deadly , yet treatable disease .

Knowing your body

The American Cancer Society urges women to take note of how their breasts normally look and feel . That knowledge is vital because it helps women recognize when something does not look or feel good to the touch with their breasts . Screening alone may not be sufficient , as the ACS notes that mammograms do not find every breast cancer .

Signs and symptoms

When women are well acquainted with how their breasts look and feel , they ’ re in better position to recognize any abnormalities , which may or may not be indicative of breast cancer . The ACS reports that the following are some potential warning signs of breast cancer .
• A new lump or mass : The ACS indicates that this is the most common symptom of breast cancer . A lump or mass that is cancerous is often painless , but hard and has irregular edges . However , lumps caused by breast cancer also can be soft , round and tender . Some even cause pain .
• Swelling : Some women experience swelling of all or part of a breast even if they don ’ t detect a lump .
• Dimpling : The skin on the breast may dimple . When this occurs , the skin on the breast sometimes mimics the look of an orange peel .
• Pain : Pain on the breast or nipple could indicate breast cancer .
• Retraction : Some women with breast cancer experience retraction , which occurs when the nipple turns inward .
• Skin abnormalities : Breast cancer may cause the skin on the breast to redden , dry out , flake , or thicken .
• Swollen lymph nodes : Some women with breast cancer experience swelling of the lymph nodes under the arm or near the collarbone .
The presence of any of these symptoms merits a trip to the doctor . Women with these symptoms should not immediately assume they have breast cancer , as the ACS notes that various symptoms of breast cancer also are indicative of non-cancerous conditions that affect the breasts . Only a physician can diagnose breast cancer , which underscores the importance of reporting symptoms to a doctor immediately .
6 Health Matters