Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of breast health. Finding breast cancer as early as possible gives you a better chance of successful treatment. But knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help find breast cancer in its early stages, even before any symptoms appear.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass or lump or breast change checked by a health care provider experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is left).
Skin Irritation or dimpling.
Breast or nipple pain.
Nipple retraction (turning inward).
Redness, Scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.
Nipple discharge(other than breast milk).
Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care provider so that he or she can find the cause.
The clinical examination of breasts is performed by a doctor who is well aware of the symptoms and abnormalities present inside a breast. This examination should be performed by a specialist such as a gynecologist or a family physician. However, the breast self-examination should be performed on a monthly basis.
A mammography, or mammogram, is an X-ray of the breast. It’s a screening tool used to detect and diagnose breast cancer. Together with regular clinical exams and monthly breast self-examinations, mammograms are a key element in the early diagnosis of breast cancer. If your doctor orders a mammogram as a routine test to check for any cancer or changes, it’s known as a screening mammogram. In this type of test, your doctor will take several X-rays of each breast. If you have a lump or any other symptom of breast cancer, your doctor will order a diagnostic mammogram. If you have breast implants you will probably need a diagnostic mammogram. Diagnostic mammograms are more extensive than screening mammograms. They typically require more X-rays to get views of the breast from multiple positions. Your radiologist may also magnify certain areas of concern.
If the results are abnormal the doctor may need to conduct further tests that offer clearer images of the affected areas. Lumps may not be cancerous but additional tests such as the MRI and Ultrasound further make it clear for the doctor to figure out the exact problem. If the tests show that the mass is in solid state then your doctor may recommend you to do a biopsy.
Cancer cannot be prevented via healthy food consumption however the risk of developing cancer can be reduced.
Because mammograms do not find every breast cancer, it is important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.