Detecting breast cancer as early as possible gives you a better chance of successful treatment. It’s important to know how your breasts look and feel so you can determine when early signs of breast cancer may arise. However, knowing what to look for should never take the place of your regular mammograms or other supplemental screenings such as The Accelerated Breast MRI (AB MRI). Regular screenings help find breast cancer in its early stages even before any symptoms appear.
So, while it’s necessary to screen for breast cancer to get the most accurate results, learning to identify some early signs of breast cancer can help you know when a breast cancer screening is needed immediately.
Early Signs of Breast Cancer
When most people think of early signs of breast cancer, they think of feeling a lump in the breast.
According to Cancer.org, “The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.”
While many women will visit their doctor after finding a lump, it’s important to be aware there are other signs and changes to the breasts which require a mammogram or breast cancer MRI.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America provides a list of the early signs of breast cancer, and invasive breast cancer, every woman should take notice of to determine whether they need to schedule an immediate breast cancer screening. Possible early signs of breast cancer can include:
- A noticeable increase in size or change in shape of the breast
- Skin changes such as redness, swelling, or other visible differences
- Nipple discharge that isn’t breast milk
- Changes in the appearance of one or both nipples
- General pain in the breast
- Lumps felt on or inside the breast
These symptoms vary depending on the person, so if you experience one or more of the above symptoms it’s vital to schedule an appointment to screen for breast cancer.
Invasive breast cancer occurs when cancer cells from the lobules or inside the milk ducts spread into nearby breast tissue. Early signs of invasive breast cancer include:
- Change in breast color
- Itchy or irritated breasts
- Changes in touch, such as being hard or tender
- Increase in breast shape or size in a short period of time
- Flaking or peeling of the nipple
- A thick lump in or on the breast
- Small pitted texture or redness to the breast
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to keep in mind that benign conditions can also cause a change in the breast. Scheduling an appointment with your doctor for a breast cancer screening will help determine whether the symptom is a cause for concern.
Get an Early Screening for Breast Cancer
Whether you detect a possible breast cancer sign or not, it’s important for women over 40 to get an annual mammogram and AB-MRI screening. Although breast cancer screenings cannot prevent cancer, they can help find breast cancer early making it easier to treat.
A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of the breast which helps detect breast cancer early before it is big enough to cause symptoms. While mammograms are very effective in most cases, they are not as accurate for women with dense breast tissue which is why it can also be beneficial to get an AB MRI screening as well.
The radiation-free Accelerated Breast MRI screenings are especially important to include for women with dense breast tissue as their risk of having breast cancer is heightened. An AB MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses to take highly detailed images of the breast, even detecting those hard to see tumors in dense breast tissue.
A breast self-exam should always be a part of your health care routine and using the above early signs of breast cancer can be beneficial in detecting a possible tumor. However, if you’re over 40 or have a high risk of breast cancer, it’s important to get early screenings for breast cancer whether you notice any signs or not. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better your chances are of beating it.