Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. It’s also one of the most common cancers in the United States. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. And while early detection and treatment can help, there are still many women who find out too late. This is because it can take years for a lump to grow into a detectable tumor. But by then, it may be too late to do anything about it.
If you’re one of the millions of women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, you know that it’s not always easy to detect lumps in your breasts. That’s why the American Cancer Society (ACS) has developed a handy guide to help you find your lumps and recognize the difference between a lump and something else.
Women should be familiar with the appearance of your breasts, and you should make it a habit to check them regularly. This will help you notice changes and problems before they become critical, allowing you to take immediate action to prevent, correct, or minimize the impact.
How Breast Lumps feel like? – Symptoms
How to know whether you have lumps in breast or not? The signs of breast cancer can be subtle. But if you’re worried about a lump, a sore that won’t heal, or any other unusual sensation in your breast, it’s time to see a doctor.
“Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women,” says Dr. Lauren Streicher, a board-certified medical oncologist and cancer surgeon. In some cases, a lump may be the only symptom of breast cancer. Other times, a woman might experience other symptoms, such as:
- A change in breast size
- Pain, swelling, or a hard, tender lump
- A change in the skin of the nipple
- A change in the skin of the breast
- Nipple discharge
- Changes in your skin or underarm area
- Lump in your breast that lasts more than 3 months
- A lump that is not painful
- A lump that does not go away
- A lump that changes size or shape
As a woman, you know that breast lumps are not always cancerous. But when they are, the experience is anything but pleasant. A breast lump is usually painful and uncomfortable, especially if it’s been there for a long time. Moreover, it may feel rounded, soft, and tender, and can occur anywhere in the breast. It’s also very common for women to get breast lumps after menopause, when the estrogen levels in the body drop.
Mammograms can help detect breast cancer in its earliest stages but it is difficult to detect lumps for women with dense breast. But still, you can easily identify the changes in your breast.
Self Breast Exam and Its Benefits
Self breast exam is a simple way to detect lumps in your breast. This is because your breasts are located in the front of your body, and are close to your chest wall. As such, you can see your breasts easily and without any help. You can even feel your breasts with your fingers. This will help you detect lumps in your breasts that may be too small to be seen on a mammogram.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women perform a monthly self-breast exam to ensure that the tissue in their breasts looks healthy. This can help you spot changes in the texture, size, and color of your breasts, as well as any changes in the skin around your nipples.
You can perform a self-breast exam by first washing your hands and dry them thoroughly. Next, use your fingertips to gently examine your breasts. Be sure to check all of your breasts, including the armpits and back of your neck. Pay attention to any areas that seem different from the rest. If you notice a lump or a thickening in the skin, you should consult your doctor immediately.
When I Should Consult a Breast Cancer Specialist?
Many women don’t know that they have breast cancer until it’s too late. According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 8. Many women experience some degree of breast tenderness or pain during their menstrual cycles, and many of them are unaware that this is a normal part of a woman’s monthly cycle.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of breast cancer, and to consult a breast cancer specialist when you see any new or unusual symptoms. But how do you know when to see a breast cancer specialist? And what do you do if you think you have breast cancer? How can you tell if your lump is cancerous? What should you do if you think you have breast cancer? We asked two leading breast cancer experts for their advice on when to consult a breast cancer specialist and what to do if you suspect you have the disease.
You can expect the following when you visit the breast cancer specialist:
- If you notice any changes to your breasts, such as a lump or swelling, you should consult your doctor.
- Your doctor may ask you to undergo a mammogram. A mammogram is an x-ray that can detect small abnormalities in your breast tissue.
- If your mammogram shows an abnormality, your doctor will perform a biopsy. A biopsy is the removal of tissue for examination under a microscope.
- Your doctor will examine the tissue and make a diagnosis based on the results.
- Depending on the results, your doctor may recommend treatment.
- You may also be referred to a breast cancer specialist. A breast cancer specialist can diagnose and treat breast cancer more effectively than your regular doctor.
- If you have a family history of breast cancer, you should consult a breast cancer specialist.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
There are many risk factors that increase your chances of developing breast cancer. Some of these include:
- Age – Women over 50 years old are more likely to develop breast cancer. The risk increases with age, and the likelihood of getting breast cancer rises steadily after menopause.
- Family history – Women with a family history of breast cancer are at higher risk of developing the disease. If your mother or sister has had breast cancer, you are at higher risk of getting the disease.
- Genetics – Certain genes are linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Women with a mutation in the BRCA1 gene or the BRCA2 gene are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Obesity – Obesity increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Women who are overweight are more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy – Women who use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. However, this doesn’t mean that all women who use HRT will develop breast cancer. It’s just that women who use HRT are at a higher risk.
- Race – African-American women are more likely to develop breast cancer than Caucasian women according to According to the National Cancer Institute. Asian women are less likely to develop breast cancer than Caucasian women.
- Reproductive history – Women who have had children are less likely to develop breast cancer. However, if you’ve had more than three full-term pregnancies, your risk of developing breast cancer increases.
- Diet – Foods that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Exercise – Exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer. It’s important to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week.
- Menstrual cycle – Women who are pregnant or who are having their menstrual periods are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Poor sleep habits – Lack of sleep can cause weight gain, which increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Benign breast Conditions – Benign breast conditions are not cancerous. They are benign tumors, cysts, and other abnormalities of the breast tissue. They are not dangerous and do not spread to other parts of the body. However, they can be painful and uncomfortable and also can cause of late breast cancer.
Breast Cancer in Men
Although breast cancer is usually found in women, it can also affect men. This type of breast cancer is called male breast cancer. In fact, male breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men. According to the American Cancer Society, about 2,000 new cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed each year. The incidence of breast cancer in men is increasing.
Symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those of women. They include:
- Pain in the breast area or nipples.
- Changes in the nipple
- A lump or swelling in the breast
- A red or scaly patch on the skin
- A rash on the chest
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpits
Men can get breast cancer as well, and it can spread or metastasize to other parts of the body as well. To diagnose the cancer in its early stages is very important. If you’re diagnosed with cancer in early stages, your chances of beating the disease are higher.
Self-Exam For Breast Cancer Lump Detection
Screening techniques help you and your doctor identify suspicious spots in your breast. A mammogram is a common screening option. A breast self-exam is another.
Your doctor may recommend that you get a self-exam, but you still might want to see your doctor. At the very least, the exam will give you a good idea of what your breasts look like, and can help you to be more confident in how they appear. Knowing what your breasts should feel like could help you spot a potential problem more easily.
To help, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to perform a self-exam for Breast Cancer Detection.
- Pick a Date: Hormones impact how your breasts feel. It’s a good idea to wait a few days after your menstrual cycle ends before you start using them. Whether you don’t have your period, pick a date you can easily remember, like the first or fifteenth, and schedule your self-examination.
- Take a Look: Take off your top and bra. Look in the mirror. Check out the different areas of your body, such as your breasts, to make sure everything is still where it should be. Raise both arms above your head. Notice the changes to your breasts’ shape and size when your arms are fully extended.
- Inspect Breasts: Once you’ve completed the visual examination, lie down on a bed or sofa. With your fingertips, feel for lumps, cysts, or other abnormalities. Start your inspections by first looking at the nipple and work your way out, spiraling around to your breastbone and armpit. Repeat the same process on other breast.
- Squeeze your nipple: Gently squeezing each nipple for a few minutes, you may notice any discharge. Too much discharge may be a sign of an infection.
- Check Your Nipples: Look for any changes in the color or texture of your nipples. Is one nipple larger than the other? Do they look darker or lighter? Are they ever pinkish or white?
- Repeat Self Examination of Breast while Shower: Once again, use warm water and soap to feel your breasts. This time, slide your fingers over the top of your breasts. Start in the center of your chest and work your way down your torso to your navel, then do it again on the other side.
- Record Breast Changes: A journal will help you spot small changes, but it may be hard to keep an accurate account of each one. Note down the unusual spots and check them again in a few weeks. Any lumps you find could be cancerous. Consult your doctor.
Conditions that can cause Breast lumps
Breast lumps are a common symptom of breast cancer. If you’re worried that you might have breast cancer, it’s important to understand the causes of breast lumps and what you can do to prevent them.
There are many conditions that can cause Breast lumps. Some of the most common include:
- Fats: Lumps in the breast are usually caused by a buildup of fat, which can be a sign that you’re overweight. This is because the fatty tissue in the breasts (lipoma) is more likely to become swollen, and then form into a lump.
- Mastitis: Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue. It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection, and it’s usually accompanied by pain. Inflammation is a natural response to an injury. When there’s an injury to the breast tissue, it’s possible that a small amount of fluid could collect in the area.
- Fibroadenoma: Fibroadenomas are benign tumors that develop in the breast. They usually start to grow after puberty, and they’re more common in women than men.
- Skin reaction to shaving or waxing: Sometimes, a skin reaction to shaving or waxing can cause lumps. This can happen when the area is irritated, or if you’re not careful with the razor.
- Cysts: Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can occur in the breast. They can also be caused by pregnancy.
- Contact dermatitis: Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction that happens when you come into contact with something that irritates your skin. It can be caused by allergies, or by wearing too tight a bra or clothing.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes can cause breast lumps. For example, the release of estrogen during the menstrual cycle can lead to a build up of fluid in the breast.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy can cause breast lumps in some women. The breasts swell and fill with fluid as the body prepares for birth.
Breast lumps are often a sign of breast cancer, but they can also be caused by other conditions. It’s important to know the symptoms of breast cancer so you can seek treatment when you need it. Remember to schedule regular self-exams and discuss any changes with your doctor.