There are a number of direct and indirect causes that increase the susceptibility of contracting breast cancer. This cancer is most common in women, especially after the age of 40, but can also affect other age groups, which is why it is important to keep a watch on the signals which may indicate breast cancer.
Signs to look out for:
- Lumps or puckering – A lump in your breast or armpit that appears and persists after your menstrual cycle needs further investigation as breast cancer could present as a painless lump . The lumps are not normally very painful and can be detected on a mammogram even before they can be felt.
- Redness or swelling – A pitted surface with a change in colour and texture of the breast is a cautionary sign of breast cancer. Although tumors or lumps are not painful in the beginning, the breast can become red or swollen up, become itchy, sore or develop a painful sensation over time. Look out for any other change in the appearance of the breasts.
- Discharge from nipple – There can be many benign reasons for discharge, but it is also a warning sign for breast cancer. The discharge can be coloured, bloody or clear.
Not all women understand the importance of a breast self – examination and very few actually practice it. Self examination is one of the most important steps in the process of early detection of breast cancer. Here are some steps on how you can do it:
- Lie down and put a pillow under your right shoulder.
- Place your right arm behind your head.
- Use the finger-tips of your three middle fingers of the left hand to feel for lumps.
- Press firmly.
- A firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast is normal.
- Move around the breast in a set pattern.
- You can choose either the circle, the up and down line or the wedge pattern for detection.
You should also check your breasts while standing in front of the mirror, for changes in the breast or nipples.
Every woman needs to know the symptoms and how to detect any unfamiliar occurrences that may be an indication of breast cancer, one of the leading causes of death in women. Apart from this, all humans are born with a certain amount of breast tissue and there have been cases of male breast cancer, though infrequent. An early detection of the cancer can help in its better treatment and can even lead to complete cure.