Subtle signs of breast cancer and why most women end up ignoring them – Times of India

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world that impacts millions of lives globally. The exact age for breast screening is a controversial debate; however, mammographic screening is not the only way to detect breast cancer. It is limited by its applicability after a certain age. Over the past few decades with the breast cancer awareness campaigns, the current approach in educating women about the risks and early signs of breast cancer have generated new and better ways through primary screening.

The self-breast examination, Clinical breast examination, ultrasound, cost-effective, and less morbid methods preferred by women for the detection of breast cancer. With age, the possibilities of breast cancer increase, and one might not generate any notable symptoms. Regular self-examination for young women and annual breast screening is recommended from a younger age only.

While breast cancer can happen to anyone at any age, the exact cause of breast cancer is still obscure. Medical research has found several risk factors that can give rise to this unpreventable condition.

Some of the common causes of breast cancer include – genes, obesity, age, gender (women are more likely to get breast cancer), pregnancy, during the beginning or end of the menstrual cycle, and alcohol.

5 Signs of Breast Cancer

Lumps or pain in the breast are often considered as early signs of breast cancer which are generally painless to start with. While invasive ductal carcinomas are the most common type of breast cancer in the world, some of the other signs of breast cancer that you should look out for are:

Nipple Discharge: Discharge from nipples is a typical function during pregnancy/breastfeeding, and the discharge can continue up to 3 years. Any form of nipple discharges other than during breastfeeding can be a sign of worry and should be brought to the doctor. Also, if the discharge is bloody or blood tinged the chances of cancer are higher

Nipple color: The presence of cancerous cells in the breast can change the thickness, redness, and puffiness in the breast, which often goes unnoticed by women.

Change in shape: It is normal to have asymmetrical breasts, but sudden or noticeable change in the breasts can be a sign of cancer and shouldn’t be ignored.

Inverted nipple: Some women are born with nipples that point inward or lie flat, but you should always consult a doctor if you see this change suddenly.

Lumps in Armpits: Excess Breast tissues extend out of the normal area of the breast. Therefore lumps, swelling, or pain in and around the area of armpits can be related to breast cancer.

It is important to observe your body closely to identify such changes. These changes can be early signs or symptoms of serious complications which can be easily ignored.

Late diagnosis can be too Late
Although there are several awareness programs and methods that are being used to spread knowledge about breast cancer, several studies show that women tend to ignore the changes in the body that can be early signs of breast cancer and take several months before reporting it to the doctor. The delay in seeking help and primary care intervention contributes to breast tumor progression, and these factors need to be addressed immediately to minimize their impact on patients.

-By Dr. Mandeep Singh Malhotra, Department of Oncology, CK Birla Hospital, Delhi

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the doctors are their independent professional judgment and we do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of their views. This should not be considered as a substitute for physician’s advice. Please consult your treating physician for more details.


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