It is a fact that breast cancer is curable, especially if detected early. Therefore, it is every patient's wish that her cancer should have been detected earlier so that the cancer cells can be killed. Breast cancer cannot easily be detected unless you do your annual physical examination where a doctor can expertly check for lumps. However, it is important that you do your own breast self-examination. During the course of your breast examination you will be able to determine if there have been changes in your breasts, but you should also recognize other symptoms of breast cancer.
Check for lumps, or cysts. This is a thickening within your breast up to your armpit area. This is most often painless. Even if it is as small as a seed, you should not neglect it. You might confuse this with lymph nodes, and it will be difficult for an ordinary person to distinguish the difference. So please consult your doctor once you feel a lump or mass in your chest area.
You should also check if there are changes in the skin of the breast. Except for a normal sunburn, look out for the following changes:
- If there is swelling of breast skin
- If redness of skin occurs (especially if you were not exposed to the sun)
- If there are changes in shape and size of the breast (it is normal that the two breasts are not perfectly equal in shape and size)
- If there is scaling of the skin in the breast area
- If the skin of the breast gets rough due to dimpling (having dimples), pitting (creating curves that look like pits) and ridging (comparable to corrugated paper).
Take note also of any changes in your nipples and areolae that can be symptoms of breast cancer. Check if the areola is scaling, if the nipple inverts or turns inside, instead of protruding. You should check with your doctor as soon as these signs come up. Also, once you notice dimples and curves within your areolae, and you feel that your nipple becomes tender, mention this to your doctor.
Nipple discharges are also not normal unless you just gave birth and your milk is flowing. This spontaneous fluid is usually clear, green or bloodstained.
Aside from breast self-examination, breast pain is also a sign of breast cancer. If there is a recurring pain in which you cannot determine the cause, a cancer might be forming. In most cases, pain is felt if the cancer reaches the advanced stage or phase. This is unfortunate because the farther along the stage of breast cancer, the harder it is to cure because more cells are affected.
Remember that you should be honest with your doctor so that he can give you the right diagnosis and treatment. Confide to him all the things that changed in your breasts. Do not be shy in explaining the changes that happened, since this involves your survival.