One in every eight women is affected by breast cancer. Factors like aging, obesity, having your first child after the age of 35 or not having children, presence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and taking birth control pills can increase your risk to breast cancer. Some other risk factors include beginning periods before age 12 & going through menopause after age 55, alcohol consumption and smoking.
As per NICPR (National institute of cancer prevention and research) breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India and accounts for 27% of all cancers in women.
According to Dr. Neelesh Reddy, Consultant- Oncology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Bangalore, “Breast self-screening is important for women who are more than 40 years of age and should be done once a month spending about 5-10 minutes of time. But, it alone is not sufficient, they should also undergo a clinical exam with an oncologist and should get mammogram done, once a year. For women who are less than 40 years of age and don’t have a strong family history of breast cancer, self-screening is recommended on a regular basis with a visit to an oncologist/gynacologist at least once in three years.”
“The sooner breast cancer gets diagnosed the better are your odds of getting a successful treatment for it. Therefore, it is important to perform breast self-screening at regular intervals. This helps to identify any abnormalities and suspicious changes early. There should be no fear for breast cancer but one should fear for its delay of detection,” added the doctor.
Here are 6 signs and symptoms by Dr. Neelesh Reddy that you should not ignore and immediately undergo a clinical examination:
- A lump in the breast- the most common first sign
The lump may feel like attached to the skin, hard and irregular in shape. Most of the time. It does not go away with the menstrual cycle and is usually not painful. If pain occurs in any case, it can be a symptom of advanced stage and should be checked by a doctor immediately.
Significant Changes in the breast size or shape
Breast skin changes
The skin of breast may become dimpled or puckered. There may also be an ulcer or a nodule over the skin as manifestation of cancer.
Nipples that become inverted should not be neglected
Discharge from nipples particularly if mixed with blood can be a manifestation of breast cancer
A lump in the armpit
Hard and painless lumps in armpits may be a sign that breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
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