One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime and early detection is critical for survival - which is why it's critical that all women be aware of possible breast cancer signs and symptoms.
Read on to learn more about associated symptoms and breast cancer signs, along with information on how to watch out for them.
The majority of breast cancer cases (80%) are diagnosed after a person finds a lump in her own breast and makes an appointment with her doctor. Identifying a lump is usually the easiest and most direct way of detecting the disease.
Most women find lumps during a routine Breast Self Exam (BSE). To learn how to give yourself a breast examination, the Komen website (an organization dedicated to supporting women with breast cancer) offers instructions online, komen.org.
Changing Breast Shape, Skin Texture or Size
A drastic change in a breast's skin texture, shape or overall size can be a clear indicator of breast cancer. Many breast cancer victims also see a dimpling or wrinkling of the skin.
Soreness and Skin Irritation
Women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) typically experience redness, swelling, heat and pain throughout the breast and nipple. The symptom basically resembles a skin inflammation, like an allergic reaction to a product or fabric.
Paget's Disease of the Breast
Paget's disease is what is considered a secondary or complex symptom of breast cancer. Essentially, the skin of the breast and/or nipple feels and appears as though it's afflicted by eczema. The skin is flaking, itchy, irritated and red.
Loss of Appetite
Like many cancers, breast cancer patients often experience a decrease in their appetite alongside subsequent weight loss. This symptom doesn't affect all patients, but is common.
Anxiety, Stress and Depression
Unfortunately, mental and emotional symptoms aren't as documented or researched as physical indicators. However, many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer report symptoms of depression and anxiety even before their diagnosis.
If any of your immediate family members or several members of your extended family have been diagnosed with breast cancer, then you need to let your doctor know. You should also commit to monthly self breast exams and annual mammograms.
If you're experiencing any or all the above symptoms, then you may want to consult with your doctor. Remember, the sooner breast cancer is detected, the better your long-term prognosis.
The American Cancer Society recommends conducting a monthly self breast exam and an annual mammogram to detect breast cancer signs like a lump or skin changes.