All women are at risk for developing breast cancer. Some women are at a higher level of risk as a result of genetics or other risk factors. Whether high risk or low risk, knowing the symptoms of breast cancer can help you know when it is time to visit your doctor.
Cancer is easiest to treat while it is still small and has not spread. Once cancer has spread into surrounding tissues or other parts of the body, successful treatment becomes increasingly challenging. Breast cancer spreads through the lymph system (immune system), so earlier diagnosis and treatment will give you a better chance of successful treatment and recovery.
Breasts change over time. Many of these changes are natural, such as ageing, having children, or gaining or losing weight. Some medications can also affect the way your breasts may feel.
The symptoms of breast cancer may vary from person to person. Some women have naturally lumpy-feeling breasts. By familiarizing yourself with the way your breasts look and feel, you will be better equipped to notice any changes that may occur. The following list includes common symptoms of breast cancer.
Everyone is different, and only you know what is normal for your body. By familiarizing yourself with how your breasts normally feel, you can quickly identify any changes.
Having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. Not all lumps in the breast are dangerous. The signs and symptoms of breast cancer sometimes overlap with other non-cancerous conditions such as cysts or benign breast tumors. Benign tumors do not spread and are not dangerous. Cysts may create hard lumps beneath the skin, but these are also not cancerous.
Visit your doctor if you notice any pain or unusual changes in your breasts. Your doctor will be able to identify the exact cause of the symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment.