Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Breast self exam, Central Counties Health Center, Healthy Lifestyle, Jacksonville Illinois, Springfield Illinois, Taylorville Illinois

Breast cancer symptoms and signs

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and so there’s no better time to talk about symptoms. Many of the symptoms of breast cancer are invisible and go unnoticed without a professional screening, such as a mammogram or ultrasound. However, some symptoms can be caught early just by looking out for changes in your breasts and being proactive about your breast health. 

Symptoms and signs of breast cancer can include: 

A change in how the breast or nipple feels

  • Nipple tenderness or a lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm area 
  • A change in the skin texture or an enlargement of pores in the skin of the breast 
  • A lump in the breast 

A change in the breast or nipple appearance 

  • Any unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast 
  • Dimpling anywhere on the breast 
  • Unexplained swelling of the breast 
  • Unexplained shrinkage of the breast 
  • Recent asymmetry of the breasts 
  • A nipple that is slightly inward or inverted 
  • The skin of the breasts, areola, or nipple that becomes scaly, red, or swollen or may have ridges or pitting resembling the skin of an orange 

Any nipple discharge – particularly clear or bloody discharge 

It is also important to note that a milky discharge present when a woman is not breastfeeding should be checked by her doctor, although it is unlikely linked with breast cancer. 

Most often these symptoms are not due to cancer, but any symptom you do notice should be investigated immediately. If you have any of these symptoms tell your healthcare provider so that you can receive a diagnosis and treatment. 

There are several resources available online, but if you do have any questions do not hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider. 

Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Breast self exam, Springfield Illinois

Breast cancer and early detection through self-examination

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month.

While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your doctor if there are any changes.

 

How should a breast self-exam be performed?

 

1) In the shower

Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps checked by your doctor.

2) In front of a mirror

Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in the shape, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.

3) Lying down

When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.

Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.

If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic – eight out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns.