MRH Blog

Early Signs of Breast Cancer

Did you know that death rates of those affected by breast cancer have decreased from 2013-2017? This is believed to be caused by catching the early signs of breast cancer through proper screening and improved treatments. Although a lump in the breast is typically an early indicator of breast cancer, much of the time these lumps that are found are non-cancerous, or benign. Common causes of these benign breast lumps can include:
– Breast infection
– Fibrocystic breast disease
– Fibroadenoma or noncancerous tumor
– Fat necrosis or damaged tissue

While the majority of breast lumps are caused by less severe conditions, new, painless lumps are still the most common symptom of breast cancer. Other early signs of breast cancer may include:
– Changes in the shape of the nipple
– Breast pain that doesn’t go away after a menstrual cycle
– A new lump that doesn’t go away after a menstrual cycle
– Spontaneous nipple discharge (without squeezing) that is clear, red, brown, or yellow
– Unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on breast
– Swelling or a lump around the collarbone or under the arm

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Nipple discharge, for example, can also be caused by an infection. If you do experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our providers for a complete evaluation and mammogram.

Breast Examination
A breast self-exam is an inspection of your breasts that you do on your own. Examining your own breasts once a month after a menstrual cycle is a good way to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. If you notice changes in your breasts, it’s important to discuss these with your provider.

To perform a breast self-exam, sit or stand shirtless and braless in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides. To inspect your breasts do the following:
– Look for puckering, dimpling, or changes in size, shape, or symmetry
– Inspect your breasts with your arms raised overhead and the palms of your hands pressed together
– Lift your breasts to see if ridges along the bottom are symmetrical
– Use a methodical technique to ensure you examine your entire breast
– Use different pressure levels when checking areas of your breasts

Understanding the early indicators of breast cancer can lead to earlier identification and diagnosis, as well as lead to more successful treatment. This is why it’s so important to perform self-exams regularly and have a conversation with your provider regarding your family history and your potential risk for breast cancer. Your risk will determine at what age your provider recommends you start receiving mammograms. Typically, women ages 45 and older, mammograms are recommended yearly.

Is your mammogram overdue? Give us a call at 435-719-3794 to schedule your appointment.