Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, accounting for more than 25 % of all cancer cases in North American females. Risk factors vary based on a combination of family genetic history, personal lifestyle choices and the quality of your daily environment. 5 – 10% of all breast cancers are linked to genetic factors. The most important thing is to always pay attention to your body and stay informed about signs, symptoms and risk factors for cancer. As we age, it is normal for changes to occur in the body and it is even more important to become sensitive to and tuned into your body’s form, function and feeling.

If anything seems out of the ordinary, speak to your doctor about what you are experiencing and explain your family history. The more informed you are earlier about your health and the risks and signs of cancer, the more meaningful your visit with a physician and your course of treatment will be.

1. Change in Shape and Size
Other change in breast shape or size may be a sign of breast cancer. Cancer can lead to the deformation of the overall shape or size of the breast. Many women notice it when their bras start to fit differently, or just in the overall appearance of them on a daily basis.

2. Lump in the Breast
The most common first sign is a lump on the breast. 80% of breast cancers are first detected with a lump which is often felt by the woman or her doctor upon physical examination. Lumps can also be detected by mammogram, sometimes found through this method way before a lump is felt. The lump often stays permanently and does not shrink with menstruation. They typically don’t cause pain, but always have these checked out.

Breast Cancer

Breast Exam

3. Breast Pain
Breast pain (known as mastalgia) is more common with breast cancer which has spread to other body parts (known as invasive breast cancer). It may be experienced first as tenderness leading to more painful episodes as it progresses. Painful breasts however, may occur for any number of non-cancer-related reasons, such as hormone fluctuations caused by menstruation and use of the birth control pill.

4. Armpit (axilla) Lump
A lump here can mean that the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit. The lump may be tender, however as with a breast lump, there is often no accompanying pain. These lumps located under the arm can come or go, as each patient is different.


Armpit Lump

5. Nipple Differences
Breast cancer sufferers commonly have pretty noticeable changes with their nipples. They can start to point in different directions, they can become inverted, the shape and size of them can change, and some even notice discharge or crusting begin to form. Even though some females are embarrassed to even speak of these changes to their doctor, it’s something you must get over to get the screenings you need to rule out any cancerous growth.

6. Bone Pains
Bone pain may seem like a strange reaction to breast cancer, but it’s usually secondary cancer in the bones that results in the soreness. Bones become weak for patients, and add a much higher risk of breaking. This is called “Pathological Fractures” and sadly, happens quite a bit.

7. Nausea
If you have already begun treatment and are experiencing nausea and even vomiting, this can be as a result of many cancer treatment medications. Talk it over with your medical provider as often changing dosages, or medications, or even adding drugs such as “Zofran” can greatly help these symptoms dissipate.

8. Loss of Appetite
Many patients loose the desire to consume foods of any sort while coping with a cancer treatment, and even prior to their initial diagnosis. Not eating proper meals and using supplemental shakes is popular for any undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Just aim for getting some form of nutrients in each day, and advise your specialist this is an issue for you to get on a feasible plan.

9. Weight Loss
Obviously, if thousands of women are reporting they have a significant decrease in the desire to eat anything, there is bound to be some notable weight loss. Always try to keep an eye on your eating habits, and if you feel this decrease in hunger has gone on for days, you have to try to consume something before you develop dehydration or even faint.

10. Skin Changes
Often there can be changes developing in the skin such as dimpling, puckers, redness, itching, or a yellowish or jaundice appearance are all reported side effects. Lots of ladies also start to show signs of rashes that resemble eczema, but it is actually something called “Paget’s Disease” and specific to cancer patients.

In its early stages, breast cancer is often as elusive as it is common. Getting to know your body, and how it feels and functions when you are healthy is the first important step towards beating it before it starts or spreads. Regular home examinations and close attention to any pre-existing risk factors within your family history also goes a long way to early detection.

Skin Changes

Skin Changes