Breast cancer warning signs every woman should know
BY DR. KAREN
Wouldn't it be great if diseases warned us they were on their way? Diabetes on the horizon? You'll get a mailer from your pancreas letting you know. Heart disease coming in a few years? You will get a nice phone call from a concerned artery. Wouldn't that be nice? Well, actually, some chronic diseases like these do present with calling cards years before the onset of serious symptoms, and in most cases, they can be mediated by preventative strategies and treatment. We have simple screening tests and fairly accurate predictive risk factors for many diseases, and we can act on this information.
READ MORE SPECIAL COVERAGE ON BREAST CANCER AWARENESS: Celebrities who have publicly battled breast cancer
How about breast cancer? The unfortunate truth is we don't have a perfect way to predict who will get breast cancer, or even who already has it without a radiological exam like mammography or sonogram. This does not mean there is nothing to look for. Women have a tendency to ignore subtle symptoms, and put off their own health care. We are often too busy taking care of others to take care of ourselves. This is no excuse. Be informed and pay attention to your body.
The most common signs of breast cancer are:
a breast mass, especially one that is hard and/or irregular. Breast cancer is usually painless, but occasionally may be painful, especially if pain is located in one specific area
nipple discharge, that is not breast milk
changes in the skin of the breast such as puckering, irritation, scaling, dimpling, redness or thickening
swelling of all or part of the breast, even with no specific lump
nipple retraction, which looks like a turning inward of the nipple
enlargement or swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpit area
It is important to remember, by the time you see or feel the above, cancer has already progressed. As with all cancers, a focus on prevention is the best course of action. An overall healthy lifestyle, can help prevent breast cancer as well as many other chronic diseases.
Risk factors for breast cancer you can control:
lack of exercise
an unhealthy diet
certain environmental factors
With 1 in 8 women developing breast cancer at some point in their life, it is prudent for all women to assume we are at great risk and behave according. Get your screening exams, look and feel for signs of breast cancer, and focus on a healthy life. If you have any concerns about your breasts, speak with your doctor immediately. Do not assume changes are age related and do not wait. Early detection is your best hope for a cure.
Learn the warning signs and risk factors for breast cancer:
More for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
The numbers behind breast cancer in America
Celebrities who have publicly battled the disease
15 super cute products that support breast cancer charities