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Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

A breast mass or lump is the most common and possible sign indicating breast cancer in women or even men. But this cancer also leads to several other changes in the skin around the breast, such as inverted nipples, redness, scaling, etc.

You must be aware of the common, as well as other, changes that occur to breasts and skin around it so that you can detect it earlier before it is too late.

Other Signs and Symptoms besides a Lump Formation

1. Changes to skin’s texture

Scaly skin around nipple and areola or skin thickening in a part of breasts can be a sign of breast cancer. These signs also lead to itching or other skin problems like eczema and dermatitis.

2. Nipple discharge

If there is abnormal discharge from nipple – from clear to milky and yellowish or reddish colour – it might be an indicator of breast cancer. It happens due to any breast infections, as a side effect of birth control pills or thyroid disease.

3. Dimpling

Skin dimpling is a sign of aggressive breast cancer. It happens when cancer cells build up of lymph fluid, leading to dimpling or swelling.

4. Lymph node changes

As cancer cells mature, they can travel to underarm lymph nodes, leading to swollen lymph nodes in armpits or around the collarbone. However, lymph tissue can also change due to other breast infections that are not related to breast cancer.

5. Breast or nipple pain

Breast cancer may cause pain, discomfort and tenderness to the breasts. In some cases, this pain is associated with a burning sensation.

6. Nipple inversion or retraction

Breast cancer also causes changes to the nipple, leading to nipple inverting and reversing into the breast. It also appears different than its usual size. However, the appearance of nipples can even change during ovulation or menstrual cycle changes. It is better to consult the doctor regarding any of these changes.

7. Redness

Breast cancer causes breast skin to appear discoloured or bruised, leading to reddish or purplish skin.

8. Swelling

Breast cancer causes swelling to the entire breast area. There may not be a different lump formation but the size of breast appears to be different.

Causes of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when cells within the breasts start to grow abnormally. These cells divide more quickly than healthy cells and start accumulating to form mass or lump. The cells may further spread through your breast towards the lymph nodes or other surrounding tissue or organ.

Breast cancer frequently begins in milk-producing ducts. It may even begin in lobules or the glandular tissue within the breast. According to certain researchers, specific factors, such as hormonal, lifestyle or environmental factors, may lead to the risk of breast cancer.

Here are some of the other possible reasons behind breast cancer:

1. Inherited breast cancer: As per doctors, five to ten percent of breast cancers are associated with gene mutations that are passed onto family generations. A certain number of inherited genes may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

2. Females are more at risk: Compared to men, females are more likely to develop breast cancer.

3. Ageing: The risk of breast cancer develops as you age.

4. History of breast conditions: If you previously had any breast biopsy, which indicated lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or any atypical hyperplasia in the breast, you are more at the risk of developing breast cancer.

5. Personal history of breast cancer: If one of your breasts had cancer previously, you are more at the risk of developing cancer on your other breast as well.

6. Family history: If your mother, sister or any female in the family line was diagnosed with breast cancer, you are more at the risk of developing breast cancer.

7. Radiation exposure: If you were even exposed to radiation therapy on your chest as a child or young adult, you might develop cancer at a later stage.

8. Obesity: Being obese may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

9. Beginning periods at a young age: If your periods began before 12 years of age, your chances of developing breast cancer are more.

10. Beginning menopause at your older age: If your menopause began at an old age, you are more likely to develop breast cancer.

11. First child at an old age: Having a first child at an old age or not being pregnant also increases the chances of breast cancer.

12. Postmenopausal hormone therapy: If you’ve had undergone hormone therapy that includes medications combining estrogen and progesterone for treating menopause symptoms, you are at higher risk of developing breast cancer.

13. Alcohol: Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of breast cancer.

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