Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world among women. In fact, women with breast cancer do not have it in their family history. One out of every eight women gets breast cancer in their lifetime, which in numbers, translates to over two million women in the world in 2018. Only 627,000 of those women survived. The reason why the survival rate is so low is that many women do not know any signs of breast cancer beyond the lump. The truth is, there are many signs of breast cancer to look out for and which can be detected by doing a self-breast examination right in your own home.

Early diagnosis is important in the successful treatment of breast cancer, so get to know these signs and make sure you are checking yourself regularly, about once a month. If you do notice yourself with any of the signs of breast cancer, get to your doctor as soon as you can. It might be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry where breast cancer is concerned.

Lumps

Lumps on your breasts, upper chest, and armpit region are the most commonly known sign of breast cancer. Often, lumps that may indicate breast cancer are irregular in shape, solid or firm, and/or fixed to the breast tissue. They are typically painless lumps and feel different than the rest of the breast. It’s not always that easy to see a lump with the naked eyes, which is why it is necessary to thoroughly check the whole region by feeling carefully with your hands.

Skin Texture Changes Around The Breast

If you notice the skin around your breast, upper chest, and armpits with a different texture than usual, it may be a sign of breast cancer. These changes materialize in different ways. The skin can begin dimpling or pitting, and if you notice this, get to your doctor right away. This is a common sign of inflammatory breast cancer, which is particularly aggressive. It will look similar to a dimple on your cheek, only it’s on your breast instead. If your skin begins to have a texture similar to that of an orange peel (scaly and thickened), this is another sign of breast cancer to look out for.

Nipple Changes

When a person has breast cancer, the cells behind the nipple can change. As a result, the nipple might look different than normal. One change that is typical includes nipple inversion or retraction, meaning the nipple begins to face inward into the breast instead of outward. Another is a change in the size of your nipple. However, in order to know if your nipple has changed size, you have to know what it looks like in the first place. That is why it is extremely important for women to know their bodies: how they look and how they feel.

Breast Size And Shape Changes

Again, know what your breasts look and feel like normally so that you can easily tell if the shape or size changes in any way. Breast cancer has been known to cause a whole breast or area of the breast to swell, with or without a noticeable lump. This means that one breast might be larger than the other (larger than normal), or one breast moves lower than the other, making them uneven or lopsided. Because of the swelling, the skin on that breast may also feel tight. If you notice any of these changes in the size or shape of your breasts, it could be breast cancer.

Discharge From The Nipples

If a woman is not lactating and breastfeeding, normally, they do not have nipple discharge. If there is discharge outside of these circumstances, be aware that you might have breast cancer. The discharge ranges in texture, from thin to thick. It also ranges in color, from clear to milky to even green, yellow, and red. While nipple discharge is not usually associated with breast cancer, sometimes it is, and that is why it is so important to see a doctor right away if you are experiencing this.

Pain In The Breasts Or Nipples

The changes in skin cells that can occur as a result of breast cancer can lead to discomfort, pain, burning, and/or tenderness in the breast area. While breast cancer is typically painless, that is not always the case. If you are experiencing pain, do not ignore these symptoms. See a doctor to determine the issue, breast cancer or not.

Discoloration In The Breast Region

A much-lesser-known sign of breast cancer is discoloration. If your breasts or the area around them appear discolored, looking red or purple or even bruised with a blue tint without a clear reason for this discoloration to occur (like trauma), see your doctor right away. This discoloration can be a sign of breast cancer. Breast cancer can cause your skin to change, which is why these kinds of color changes can occur.

Changes In The Lymph Nodes

Swollen lymph nodes in the underarm can be an indication of breast cancer as well. The first place cancer cells travel to outside the breast is the underarm region. Indications of breast cancer in these lymph nodes are swelling or tenderness. While issues with the armpit lymph nodes are often not a sign of breast cancer, only a doctor can detect the cause of these changes. If it is breast cancer, it means the cancer has already traveled, so contacting your doctor right away upon noticing swollen underarm lymph nodes is crucial.