Breast Health Awareness: Early Detection and Beyond

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Just because your breasts don’t feel lumpy doesn’t mean you don’t have breast cancer. The symptoms differ by cancer type; you may have a kind that doesn’t form lumps or bumps. 

Early Warning Signs of Breast Cancer 

Before heading  to a clinic to get checked out, check for these early warning signs of breast cancer at home:

  • Swelling is normal after a wax, but if the swelling in your armpit doesn’t go away, you may have breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes in that area. 
  • A lump in your underarm or breast which a mammogram can reveal further.
  • Pain and tenderness in the breast. Lumps feel prickly when you poke them, but if you have breast cancer, your breasts may feel sensitive and painful to the touch. 
  • A flat indentation on the breast.
  • Changes in breast size, texture, temperature, and contour.
  • Changes in nipple texture. If a nipple develops sores, discharges blood or pus, burns, or itches, you may have breast cancer.

Types of Breast Cancer 

Some of the common types of breast cancer include the following:

Ductal Carcinoma

This cancer develops in the breast’s milk ducts. If left untreated, it punctures its way through the walls of the duct and spreads to the rest of the breast tissue. It is one of the most common causes of breast cancer. 

Stage 0 Breast Cancer 

Also called ductal carcinoma in situ, Stage 0 breast cancer remains in the milk ducts and is often treatable if caught in time. Otherwise, it has the potential to spread.

Infiltrating Lobular Carcinoma 

This cancer forms in the breast lobules, i.e., the part of the breast where milk is produced and spreads to the surrounding tissue. It makes up approximately 15% of cases. If it remains in the lobules, it is treatable. That precancerous condition is called lobular carcinoma in situ. A mammogram and breast exam can reveal which one you may have. 

Triple Negative Breast Cancer 

This makes up approximately 15% of breast cancer cases and is also considered to be the most complex to treat. It lacks three markers confirming breast cancer (thus the name), making a diagnosis and treatment challenging. 

Inflammatory Breast Cancer 

This type of breast cancer is invasive and quite aggressive. It feels and looks like an infection. So, if you think your breast is swollen, pitted, dimpling, or red, you may have it. These symptoms are conducive to blocked lymph nodes. 

Diagnosing Breast Cancer 

Some of the tests you may undergo at your doctor’s office for breast cancer detection include the following:

A Physical Exam 

If they see anything abnormal in your mammogram, your doctor may conduct a physical exam by checking both breasts and the lymph nodes. The latter are located right above the collarbone and your arms. Be prepared with information on your family’s medical history, especially if there is a cancer strain. 

Mammogram 

This mild X-ray can detect changes in your breast during a physical exam. Let your GP know if you have implants beforehand.

Ultrasound

If the mammogram detects something, the doctor will ask you to get an ultrasound. This non-invasive and painless scan can take a picture of the inside of your breast via sound waves. 

Biopsy

If the doctor suspects you may have breast cancer, they will remove a portion of your breast tissue for a biopsy. The specimen will be placed underneath a microscope for a final and accurate diagnosis. 

Additional Scans

If you have breast cancer, the doctor may suggest additional scans to get a complete picture of the growth. This can include a CT or MRI scan. 

Discovering you have breast cancer can be overwhelming. It’s natural to feel shocked, upset, angry, and confused at first, but don’t let the shock prevent you from treatment or surgery if needed. Get as much information from your doctor as possible and follow their treatment advice. Don’t worry if they ask you to get several tests. It’s their standard way of narrowing down the type of cancer you may have. 

Book a Consultation with a Breast Cancer Specialist at Health One Family Medicine 

Breast cancer is not a death sentence if it is detected early enough. You may have pre-cancer, which can be prevented from developing into a full-blown untreatable tumor. Book a physical exam at Health One Family Medicine before it is too late.

Our bilingual staff can help you with anything you need, and we also accept medical insurance plans. Besides diagnosing and treating breast cancer, we also offer a range of other medical services, such as back pain relief, allergy testing, primary care, thyroid treatments, and more. 

It will be a load off your mind and the first step towards your recovery. 

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