One more important thing to know before you move on with reading: signs that show a progression over time is the ones that should worry you! Serious pathology does not just disappear, it’s there and it’s worsening over time. If you find yourself in some of the symptoms, think about how long they last and if they increase in severity over time. If you are not sure, ask your doctor for advice!
Losing weight fast
If you are working out and/or dieting, that’s ok, you should be proud of your weight loss! Seasonal body weight variations are not a reason for concern neither (some people simply can’t eat in the summer heat, so they lose weight during summer). On the other hand, losing 10 or more pounds within few months without obvious explanation is a reason for a medical checkup. Weight loss may be related to digestion problems or some other non-cancer pathology as well. It is an unspecific sign that your body’s energy expenditure is higher than the intake (breast cancer may be the reason for this!).
If you feel fatigued for a prolonged period of time (for weeks or even months), you should visit your doctor. Just like in case of weight loss, it is an unspecific sign and a number of underlying conditions can cause it. Digestion problems, depression, high workload, stress and the list goes on… Breast cancer is on that list too! Cancer tissue is metabolically very active (it needs a lot of energy) and the body is trying to defend itself against it, which requires a lot of energy as well which results in fatigue.
Breast skin changes
Orange peel skin- that’s how it’s described among doctors. The skin literally looks like an orange peel (it’s stiff, can be tender or painful, with small dots on its surface). Unlike the first two signs, it always points out that something is happening in the breast. Unusual skin irritation or bumps that last for a long time and do not subside are significant as well.
Lumps in your armpits
The lumps (swollen lymph nodes) that should worry you are deep in the armpit tissue (unlike pimples that lay within the thickness of the skin). Pay attention can you feel them in both armpits or just on the one side. They may be painful, but usually, they are painless. The most common reason for those is an infection (they usually appear a day or two after the armpit shaving). If you think you have them, wait for a week and if they don’t disappear or reduce in size, schedule a medical checkup. Pay attention can you feel them in both armpits or just on the one side.
Lumps in your breast tissue
The numbers say that every other woman sometimes in their life will have lumps in their breast tissue. Most of them are benign (do not require treatment, just a periodical checkups). Rounded, soft lumps tend to be benign and hard lumps with irregular edges require thorough medical examination.
Nipple discharge (may be clear, yellow, bloody, thick…) is a sign of a pathology process that involves the mammary gland ducts (if you are not a breastfeeding mother). Cancer may be the underlying cause, but it’s not the only one.
Nipple seems to be retracted
Usually, only one nipple is retracted while the other one appears to be normal. Have in mind that temperature changes can cause a nipple to retract as well- it is a reflex that lasts for a few minutes or so. If the nipple is retracted for days or weeks (even slightly), a medical checkup is needed.
Breast or nipple pain or swelling
Don’t ignore the swelling and pain that’s not related to menstrual cycle and found on one side. The bilateral (present on both sides) swelling and pain is usually caused by some hormonal imbalance and needs a doctor’s attention as well.
You just learned the breast cancer signs that you shouldn’t ignore. If you notice any of them, call your doctor and schedule the appointment. Noticing these signs do not require urgent medical examination, waiting for an appointment for a few days won’t do any harm and their presence does it mean that you will be diagnosed with cancer (it only means that you need a medical examination).