According to the American Cancer Society, women in the U.S. roughly have a 12% chance of developing breast cancer at some point in their lives.
Checking and feeling your breasts on a regular basis will allow you to spot any early signs of breast cancer development. Treating breast cancer in its early stages greatly increases the likelihood of successful treatment, so take note of any changes to the look and/or feel of your breasts to ensure you’re in good health.
Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?
Breast cancer prevention is by no means indisputable, but there are some factors that are controllable that a woman can do to lower the risk:
- Avoid alcohol: Even small amounts have shown an increase in risk
- Maintain proper body weight
- Be active
- Avoid hormone therapy for menopause
What Are the Early Signs of Breast Cancer?
While mammograms and screening tests can catch breast cancer before you can find it on your own, the most common breast cancer sign is a new mass or lump in the breast. These lumps may be irregular and painless, or they could be tender and painful, especially to the touch. It’s important to know what your breast looks and feels like, so that you can detect changes that may indicate early signs of breast cancer. Other signs of breast cancer include:
- Swelling, dimpling of the breast
- Swelling, dimpling of the nipple
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Skin irritation
- Nipple Retraction
- Nipple Discharge (other than breast milk)
The Mayo clinic says that dense breast tissue makes it more difficult for a mammogram to detect breast cancer. Women with dense breasts have an increased risk of cancer. All breasts are made of dense and non-dense tissue. Women who have less fatty breasts have more of the supportive tissues that are considered dense. Dense tissue is white on a mammogram and difficult to see through. Non-dense tissue appears dark and is easier to see through. About 10 percent of women have extremely dense breast tissue.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, with lung cancer being number one. Leading a healthy lifestyle, knowing your risk factors, and getting the proper tests will help you to reduce the probability of getting breast cancer and improve the likelihood of survival if you do contract it.
Be sure to check other areas of your body that appear to be swollen or enlarged, such as the collarbone and armpits. Breast cancer can cause these areas to become swollen well before a tumor in the breast is detectable, so any indication of swelling in your lymph nodes should be acted on immediately. Have any potential signs of breast cancer checked by a health care provider as soon as you can.