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Understanding Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Risk, and Tests

 Breast cancer: Know the signs, risk factors, and screening tests.
Health Tips 17 Jul 2023

Understanding how normally your breasts feel and look can be an important component of assured breast health. Regular screening for breast cancer symptoms can indeed lead to earlier detection of the dreaded illness, and that is why you should take it seriously.

Let’s talk about the common symptoms of breast cancer you should know about.

New Lump or Mass in the Breasts

This has to be the most common way people suspect that they may be suffering from breast cancer. This can be a painless and harmful lump in any part of the breast such a lump is usually irregularly shaped but the fact is that a lump can also be soft, tender, round, and even painful.

It is also true that most lumps found in the breasts are non-cancerous.

Here are some of the other symptoms of breast cancer

  • Nipple retraction or nipple turning inward
  • No lump but there is a swelling in a part of in all parts of a breast
  • Pain in the breast or the nipple
  • Dimpling of the skin on the breast
  • Flaking, dry, red, or thickened breast or nipple
  • Swollen lymph nodes are found under the arm or very near the collarbone.

When talking about these common breast cancer symptoms, do note that these are symptoms that may also be caused by non-cancerous or ‘’benign’’ conditions. That is why it is critical to have any new lump or mass in the breasts checked as soon as possible by a doctor or registered health professional.

Getting regularly screened is a good idea after you are past a certain age and especially if you are experiencing causes for breast pain. This will be useful in the detection of early-stage breast cancer so chances of getting rid of the cancer are higher.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Studies time and again have shown that a woman’s chances of getting afflicted with this disease may be due to a variety of factors. The main risk factors happen to be that the person is a woman and is getting older!

Studies have also shown that this is a disease that afflicts most women who are over 50 years of age. Some women can get the disease even if they do not have any of the risk factors associated with it. Do understand that just being endowed with a risk factor does not in any way mean that you will certainly get the disease nor does not mean that all risk factors have the same importance in the medical world.

Here are the common risk factors

Let’s look at some of the common associated risk factors of the dreaded disease.

  • Gender, Age, and Race: Women get breast cancer more than 100 times more than their male counterparts. Women who are detected with invasive cancer are also most likely to be above the age of 55. Caucasian women are more likely to get the disease than their other racial counterparts.
  • Weight: It is known that women who are overweight or obese are more likely to be affected by the disease.
  • Family and Personal Health History: This is a crucial risk factor. Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast are likely to get it in the other breast as well. Women who have direct family members who have been affected by the dreaded disease are more likely to be affected as well.
  • Dense Breast Tissue: A lump in breast is more likely to occur in women who have dense breast tissue. This is because diagnosing the disease becomes more difficult when the tissue is dense.
  • Lifestyle: Women who spend a lot of time sitting and without much physical activity are more likely to get the disease. Drinking too much alcohol is also an associated risk factor though there has been no evidence to suggest that anyone who drinks alcohol will get the disease.

Getting a Mammogram

Health practitioners today suggest that starting from the age of 40, it is good for women to go for a mammogram once a year. It is important that you chose a facility that is reputed for the quality of laboratory tests they do. It is also a good idea to go for this test on a day when your breast isn’t feeling swollen.

For Screening: You will be requested by the technologist to get undressed from above the waist and you will be given a wrap. You will have to then stand in front of the machine and each of your breasts will be compressed with a compression plate. This will be about 15 seconds and is needed to take high-quality pictures. This is done twice, one horizontally and one vertically.

For Diagnosis: This is done if the doctor has seen something unusual in your breasts or you have been experiencing causes for breast cancer. For this, importance is given to particular large areas of the breast and the compression is done likewise.

You will get the report soon enough sent to you or directly to your doctor.

While risk factors are not to scare anyone, prevention of any type of cancer indeed depends a lot on promoting healthy lifestyles among the population. Also, early screening for women who have risk factors and are likely to get the disease prevents it from getting worse.

Author Bio: City X-Ray & Scan Clinic is a renowned diagnostic facility for mammograms and any other laboratory test you may be looking for. They have all the equipment and know-how for an easy and effective diagnosis.


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