Today, breast cancer is a growing cause for concern in women. About 12 per cent of American women are bound to develop invasive breast cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates that up to 268,600 new cases are bound to be registered in 2019. This means, one in every 8 women are prone to breast cancer.
The most common symptom, as we all know, is the presence of a lump in the breast. Dr Janie Grumley, a breast surgery oncologist from California says, “For most patients, breast cancer does not elicit any symptoms. In general, if patients are doing screening, signs of cancers are picked up before patients experience any symptoms.” So, detecting breast cancer at an earlier stage is crucial, and there are unusual ways of doing so. Here are 7 unusual breast cancer symptoms that you should not ignore:
Changes in the look and feel of either of your nipples are a cause for concern. Dr Grumley says, “Hardness of the nipple or retraction of the nipple that is asymmetric compared to the other side can be a sign of changes that need medical attention.” Dr Amy L Waer, from the College of Medicine of Texas A&M explains that in their natural state, our nipples point out. So during ‘nipple retraction’, the nipples turn inward due to pulling by cancerous tumours.
Bloody Nipple Discharge
While nipple discharge is a common phenomenon and is nothing to be worried about, bloody discharges call for caution. In that case, it’s a safer practice to visit a doctor. Dr Grumley says, “When there is bloody nipple discharge, there is a small chance this may be an early sign of breast cancer and should be brought to the attention of a physician.”
Pain in a specific area in your nipple or breast
According to Bustle, if you feel a sharp pinching, pain at a specific point in your breast or nipple, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor. Dr Waer elaborates that this is called “focal breast or nipple pain”, and could possibly imply development of breast cancer. If there’s no particular cause or it doesn’t get resolved, get it checked.
Dimples on the surface of your breast
If you notice some serious changes on the surface of your breast, then it should become a cause for concern. Dr Waer says that “changes in the texture of the breast skin such as dimpling or puckering” could signal development of breast cancer. Dr Grumley elaborates that dimples might appear on your skin occur due to stretching caused by a mass or cancer. Look for dimples or puckers by moving your arms sideways and overhead in front of a mirror and carefully examining your breast.
Painless swelling or redness
While there are many reasons for experiencing swelling or rashes on your breasts, the appearance of these without a cause calls for a thorough check-up. Dr Grumley says, “Most swelling and redness of the breast is related to an infection. However, infection is commonly associated with pain. Swelling and or redness not associated with pain should be evaluated for possible underlying issues. In very rare cases this can be a sign of cancer.”
Swellings in your armpit
Usually, we tend to ignore the fact that breast tissues are related to armpits as well. However, Dr Waer says, “swelling, pain or a mass in the armpit area” could be indicative of breast cancer. The swellings might suggest that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the armpits. These are often visible prior to the symptoms visible on the breasts.
Your breasts suddenly start changing shape.
If there are any major alterations in the shape of your breasts, it’s a call for attention. Dr Waer says, if there’s a “sudden change in the size or shape of a breast,” it could signal the development of breast cancer. It’s an unusual but possible symptom, because the growth of a tumour might cause a change in the shape of breasts. It’s advisable to inspect this through a mammogram.