Cancer develops in either lobules or the ducts of the breasts. It can also occur in the fatty tissue or the fibrous connective tissue within the breast.
Although most of us think women who are diagnosed with breast cancer share a common experience of having a lump that wasn’t there before which ultimately turns out to be cancerous.
According to a study, around 1 in 6 women eventually diagnosed with breast cancer initially visit their doctors with a symptom other than lump.
Yes, lump is not the only symptom you need to watch out for and there still are a lot of women who think lump is the sole indicator of breast cancer.
Therefore, a woman who is experiencing a symptom of breast cancer other than lumps is more likely to wait to see a doctor, which may put her at the risk of worst outcomes in future.
Next Page are a few of those symptoms that every woman should watch out for.
1. Scaly skin
Having a rough patch of skin that feels scaly or thicker than usual can be a warning sign of breast cancer.
What Is Scaling Skin?
Scaling skin is the loss of the outer layer of the epidermis in large, scale-like flakes. The skin appears dry and cracked, though skin dryness isn’t always to blame.
Scaling skin is also called:
- dropping of scales
- flaking skin
- peeling skin
- scaly skin
Scaling skin may make a person self-conscious, particularly if it occurs on their hands, feet, face, or other visible areas. The scales can itch and redden, and the condition can affect their quality of life.
Thick, scaly, or crusty skin patch
Appears on parts of the body that receive a lot of sun exposure (hands, arms, face, scalp, and neck)
Usually pink in color but can have a brown, tan, or gray base
This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.
- Rashes occur when your immune system reacts to allergens on the skin
- Itchy, raised welts that appear minutes to hours after skin contact with an allergen
- Red, itchy, scaly rash that may appear hours to days after skin contact with an allergen
- Severe and sudden allergic reactions may cause swelling and difficulty breathing that require emergency attention
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the rapid buildup of skin cells. This buildup of cells causes scaling on the skin’s surface.
Inflammation and redness around the scales is fairly common. Typical psoriatic scales are whitish-silver and develop in thick, red patches. Sometimes, these patches will crack and bleed.
Psoriasis is the result of a sped-up skin production process. Typically, skin cells grow deep in the skin and slowly rise to the surface. Eventually, they fall off. The typical life cycle of a skin cell is one month.
In people with psoriasis, this production process may occur in just a few days. Because of this, skin cells don’t have time to fall off. This rapid overproduction leads to the buildup of skin cells.
Scales typically develop on joints, such elbows and knees. They may develop anywhere on the body, including the:
Less common types of psoriasis affect the nails, the mouth, and the area around genitals.
There is a good chance that you have a lump lurking under the surface but you don’t feel it.
This might change the shape as well size of your breast and can even give you pain.
What is Swelling?
Swelling occurs whenever the organs, skin, or other parts of your body enlarge.
It is typically the result of inflammation or a buildup of fluid. Swelling can occur internally, or it can affect your outer skin and muscles.
A range of conditions can cause swelling. Insect bites, illnesses, or injuries often result in external swelling. Internal swelling is often a side effect of medication or the result of a serious injury.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience rapid, unexplained swelling, especially if you also experience unexplained weight gain and pain.
Symptoms of swelling
Sometimes, instances of slight swelling may go unnoticed. This condition does not always cause other symptoms.
For external swelling, the enlargement of skin or muscles is usually visible. However, other signs of swelling include the buildup of fluid in the affected area.
An imaging scan can show an enlarged organ, muscle, or bone. A scan can help diagnose internal swelling, which is harder to identify.
If your swelling was caused by an injury, sting, or disease, you might experience a wide range of symptoms.
These may include:
- pain in the affected area
If the swelling is not visible or if it is internal, you may experience the following symptoms:
- flu-like symptoms
What causes swelling?
Inflammation in your bones, tissues, or muscles can result in external swelling. Cysts and tumors may also cause visible swelling. Although fluid retention is an internal condition, it may also cause external swelling.
The most common causes for external swelling include:
- insect bites
- fluid retention
- hormonal changes
3. Nipple changes
Some breast cancers may lead to nipple inversion or retraction, in which the nipple turns inward. This typically occurs due to a mass growing inside the breast that changes breast shape.
In the recent research, 7% of the women who were diagnosed with breast cancer reported to have nipple abnormalities.
*TIP: Inflammatory Breast Cancer
What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)?
Inflammatory breast cancer is an an aggressive and fast growing breast cancer in which cancer cells infiltrate the skin and lymph vessels of the breast. It often produces no distinct tumor or lump that can be felt and isolated within the breast.
But when the lymph vessels become blocked by the breast cancer cells, symptoms begin to appear.
What Are The Symptoms Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer?
Early IBC symptoms may include persistent itching and the appearance of a rash or small irritation similar to an insect bite.
The breast typically becomes red, swollen, and warm. The skin may appear pitted like an orange peel, and nipple changes such as inversion, flattening, or dimpling may occur.
How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Diagnosed And Treated?
A diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer is classified as Stage 3 breast cancer and is diagnosed through your physician’s clinical judgment and a biopsy. Typically, IBC grows rapidly and requires aggressive treatment.
Most oncologists recommend both local treatment of the affected breast and systemic treatment (whole body treatment), which may include chemotherapy.
Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormone treatments may be included in the regimen. With aggressive treatment, the survival rate for inflammatory breast cancer patients has improved significantly in recent years.
4. Nipple discharge
Nipple discharge refers to any fluid that seeps out of the nipple of the breast.
Nipple discharge in women who are not pregnant or breast-feeding may not be abnormal, but it’s wise to have any unexpected nipple discharge evaluated by a doctor.
One or both breasts may produce a nipple discharge, either spontaneously or when you squeeze your nipples or breasts.
The consistency of nipple discharge can vary — it may be thick and sticky or thin and watery.
What Causes Nipple Discharge?
The milky discharge after breast-feeding will normally affect both breasts and can continue for up to two or three years after stopping nursing.
A papilloma is a noncancerous (benign) tumor that can be associated with bloody discharge.
It appears spontaneously and involves a single duct. Although the bloody discharge may resolve on its own, this situation requires evaluation with an ultrasound of the area behind the nipple and areola.
However, breast cancer is a possibility, especially if:
- You have a lump in your breast
- Only one breast is affected
- The discharge contains blood
- The discharge is spontaneous and persistent
- The discharge affects only a single duct
Possible causes of nipple discharge include:
- Birth control pills
- Breast cancer
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Endocrine disorders
- Excessive breast stimulation
- Fibrocystic breasts (lumpy or rope-like breast tissue)
- Injury or trauma to the breast
- Intraductal papilloma (a benign, wartlike growth in a milk duct)
- Mammary duct ectasia
- Mastitis (an infection in breast tissue that most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding)
- Medication use
- Menstrual cycle hormone changes
- Paget’s disease of the breast
- Periductal mastitis
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding
Factors that increase the chances of breast cancer
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Late pregnancy
- Family history
- Being overweight or underweight
- Overconsumption of oral contraceptive
- Early puberty or late menopause
Causes shown in this post are commonly associated with this symptom.
Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
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