Beyond Lumps: Other Potential Breast Cancer Warning Signs to Watch For
While many women still check their breasts monthly for lumps, experts say there are many more warning signs to consider.
Since many of the signs of breast cancer can be visual, Sarah Hockin, Mission Director, Susan G. Komen Michigan, said her organization recommends a “know your normal” approach, taking stock regularly of the eight different signs you should look out for and have seen by your doctor when it comes to breast health.
Changes that should be reported include:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area.
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast.
- Change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin.
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple.
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast.
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly.
- New pain in one spot that does not go away.
“If you notice any signs of change, particularly in those eight warning signs, then contact your doctor,” Hockin said.
Women know their bodies and shouldn’t be afraid to have unusual changes looked at, said Dr. Patricia Ferguson, MD, FACOG, a BCBSM physician consultant.
“The exam should not just be limited to the monthly breast self-exam and could include a glance in the mirror before a shower, or a cursory exam in the daily shower,” Ferguson said. “You might also discover something through other contact whether a bump by a rambunctious child or from a partner during intimacy. The most important thing is that at the first sign of concern, they should bring it to the attention of their provider.”
The bottom line? Pay attention to your breasts, noticing anything that’s unusual for you. After age 40, routine mammograms are recommended. Those with an increased risk of breast cancer due to genetic factors might need them sooner, which should also be discussed with your doctor.
Create a monthly reminder to check for these eight signs of abnormality in your breasts as part of a healthy lifestyle.
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Photo credit: Jason Tessier
This post has been updated. It was originally published July 20, 2017.