Self-exams are important for diagnosing breast cancer early, but you should be checking your breasts and surrounding body parts for more than just lumps. Lumps are not always noticeable until they become larger as the cancer progresses. In addition, an estimated 80 to 85 percent of lumps in the breast are non-cancerous, so they are not the only signs to consider. Using this guide and the help of your doctor, you will learn some surprising signs of breast cancer that are not related to lumps in your breast tissue.
If you are experiencing pain and discomfort in your breast or chest area, visit your doctor immediately. Throbbing, twinging, or sharp stabbing pains may all be signs of underlying issues in your breast tissue.
Seed-sized tumors may develop in your breast, causing pain to spread through the entire breast and chest area. Or, you may have one large tumor in the breast or directly behind your nipple. These larger tumors can develop tentacles that radiate pain out through the breast and chest area. If tumors continue to grow, the pain may also spread into your upper back, neck, and shoulders.
Use a notebook or your smartphone to document the location and severity of your pain. Be specific when describing the pain in and around your breast. This will allow your doctor to determine whether you are experiencing pain from a possible lump or soreness associated with PMS.
Itchy breast tissue is a common sign of inflammatory breast cancer. This aggressive disease is very rare, affecting only 1 to 5 percent of diagnosed cases of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer usually develops in the cells of the milk ducts and quickly spreads to surrounding tissue and lymph nodes, making the disease very dangerous.
Not only will this form of breast cancer cause your breast tissue to be itchy, but you may also experience the following:
- Breast swelling
- Tenderness in breast
- Redness of breast tissue
- Burning sensations
- Inverted nipples
In many cases, inflammatory breast cancer is misdiagnosed. If you are experiencing itchy breast tissue and one or more of the above symptoms, make sure your doctor orders a mammogram from a clinic like EVDI Medical Imaging for further testing.
The tissue behind the nipple is a common area for tumors to develop. These tumors will cause changes in the color, size, and shape of the nipple, so it is important to discuss these changes with your doctor.
If the nipple has become flattened, inverted, or indented, it may be due to the development of a tumor. The skin on and around the nipple may also become dry, scaly, and red, which can cause some discomfort.
Discharge from the nipple that does not stem from breastfeeding is also a common symptom of breast cancer. Discharge may be milky, watery, or have a yellowish tint. Bloody discharge from the nipple may also occur if you have breast cancer.
Swelling in Armpit
Lymphatic fluid drains from your breast, spreading into the lymph nodes of your armpit. Tender, sore, and tight tissue around the armpit may stem from swollen lymph nodes.
Compare the tissue of both armpits while completing your self-exams. Document any pain, swelling, or lumps in the area.
The flu, colds, and even some infections will cause the lymph nodes to swell. If the swelling, tenderness, or lumps have not disappeared within a few days or have gotten worse, consult your doctor immediately for testing.
Breast cancer is a serious disease that requires efficient and effective treatment, so the importance of regular exams is easy to see. Using this guide, you will understand what other signs to look for when conducting your breast exams.