October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is an important subject, especially for women. With one in every eight women developing breast cancer, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in our country. Breast cancer typically develops as a small tumor (or lump) in the tissues throughout the breasts and then, if cancerous, spreads through the lymph nodes.
The best way of surviving a diagnosis of breast cancer is with early detection, which is why routine self-exams of the breasts and annual check-ups and mammograms are important. As woman, it is important to be proactive and help spread the word on breast cancer awareness.
Here are some early warning signs to look for during your self-breast exams at home:
- Detection of a Lump: When performing a self-breast exam, carefully apply pressures to the breasts and surrounding tissues with your fingers. Both benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) breast lumps sometimes form under the armpit, in the collarbone, near the site of the lymph nodes and around the nipples, as rigid, hard, tender lumps that don’t move when you press against them. Any tenderness may be due to swollen tissues.
- Itchy Breasts: A common symptom of inflammatory breast cancer is a rash-less itch in and around your breasts that can indicate an underlying issue more severe than dermatitis. The itchy sensation is often accompanied by nipple discharge and breast tissue that appears thicker or changed in texture.
- Swollen Breasts: Inflammation of the breast tissues and areas around the breasts can occur if there is a breast tumor pressing on the tissues above. Typically a sign of inflammatory breast cancer swelling can be accompanied by red, patchy, hot skin that feels extremely tender to the touch or caress.
- Breast Size Change: It’s common for a breast tumor to alter the shape or size of an affected breast before you feel that telltale lump. Along with self-exams for breast lumps, be sure to visually check the shape and size of your breasts in a mirror and take heed when you put on your bra. If you are planning on plastic surgery for your breasts, be sure it’s with board-certified surgeons.
- Shoulder & Neck Stiffness: Sore shoulders and stiff necks aren’t always what they seem. And breast cancer will usually spread to the spine, back, or shoulders and cause achy pain in these areas. If back, neck, and shoulder pain persist, regardless of ointment, rest, stretching, or massage, contact your doctor to talk about a breast cancer screening.
With modern-day technology, there are advanced treatments for women faced with battling breast cancer. Survivors also have progressive options for breast reconstruction in Scottsdale. As always, consult with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions. Thank you to Berardi Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery for these helpful tips, this post contains affliliate links.
If you would like to get involved with raising awareness or funding for Breast Cancer research, here are some local events taking place this month:
Walk for Hope
October 4, 2015
Breast Cancer Screening
October 10, 2015
Desert Ridge Marketplace
Race for the Cure
October 11, 2015
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
October 24, 2015
Tempe Beach Park