Signs of Breast Cancer and the Importance of Early Detection
Making time to take care of you can sometimes feel like a luxury. But when it comes to breast health and signs of breast cancer, prioritizing screenings recommended by your healthcare provider is critical. Imaging tests such as mammograms and supplemental screenings such as Accelerated Breast MRI™, also known as abbreviated breast MRI, can find breast cancer early when it is easiest to treat.
What Are the Initial Symptoms?
When you think about signs of breast cancer in women, the most common symptom that probably comes to mind is a lump in the breast. And while your healthcare provider should investigate any unusual mass in tissue, it is not the only warning sign that you should have a breast cancer screening.
According to Cancer Centers of America, early signs of breast cancer include:
- A noticeable increase in size or change in shape of the breast
- Skin changes such as redness, swelling or other visible differences
- Nipple discharge that is not breast milk
- Changes in the appearance of one or both nipples
- General pain in the breast
- Lumps felt on or inside the breast
If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an immediate breast cancer screening.
Also, if you notice signs of invasive breast cancer, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. These signs include:
- Change in breast color
- Itchy or irritated breasts
- Changes in touch, such as being hard or tender
- Increase in breast shape or size in a short period of time
- Flaking or peeling of the nipple
- A thick lump in or on the breast
- Small pitted texture or redness to the breast
Certain symptoms may be indicative of a benign condition or of breast cancer. So a thorough diagnostic screening is essential for wellness and peace of mind.
Can Breast Cancer Be Detected Early?
A mammogram and an Accelerated Breast MRI screening are two breast cancer screenings that can find breast cancer early. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of the breast, which helps detect breast cancer early before it is big enough to cause symptoms. While mammograms are very effective in most cases, they are not an accurate option for breast cancer screening for dense breasts. That is why it can also be beneficial to get an Accelerated Breast MRI screening even if you are at average risk for breast cancer.
The radiation-free Accelerated Breast MRI screenings are especially important to include for women with dense breast tissue, as their risk of having breast cancer is heightened. An Accelerated Breast MRI is a good option for high-risk breast cancer screening because it uses a powerful magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses to take highly detailed images of the breast, detecting those hard-to-see tumors in dense breast tissue.
Can You Have Breast Cancer With No Pain?
Many signs of breast cancer may be painless. Do not discount any unusual symptoms simply because they do not hurt. Still have them checked out by your healthcare provider, especially if you are considered high risk for breast cancer because of factors such as family history.
Often, if you have pain in your breasts, it maybe caused by a benign breast condition, such as dense breast tissue and hormonal changes.
Can Swollen Lymph Nodes Be a Sign of Breast Cancer?
Your lymph nodes contain immune cells and act like filters against dangerous substances. They are located throughout the body, including in the neck, the groin and under the arms. If you have breast cancer that is beginning to progress, the first place it is likely to spread is to the lymph nodes under the arm. It may also extend to lymph nodes close to your breastbone and collarbone.
These lymph nodes may be swollen and should be examined through a needle biopsy.