7 Early Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

breast_cancer

If you do your breast exams regularly and get your mammograms every year or two, you probably think you're being proactive about breast cancer. The problem is, looking for lumps isn't as easy as it sounds. Studies show that breast lumps often aren't detectable by feel (they're not "palpable," in doctor-speak) until they're at least 10 to 15 millimeters -- the size of a dime -- and then only 48 percent of the time. It's really not until a lump is 20 mm or more that you're certain to feel it. Meanwhile, mammograms also miss approximately one in ten tumors, and they're less reliable in younger women and women with dense breast tissue.

So what works to catch breast cancer early? Science is hard at work on the problem: In spring 2012, researchers in Canada announced the invention of a sophisticated new computer software system capable of analyzing mammograms for "architectural distortion" -- subtle but specific patterns in breast tissue that can appear more than a year before the development of a lump. But that technology is years away from general use. In the meantime, top breast cancer experts say women should become as familiar with their own bodies as possible and be alert for any changes. Here are some of the earliest and most surprising signs of breast cancer, as described by the women who know: breast cancer survivors themselves.

Breast cancer warning sign #1: Pain in the breast or chest

Whether it's an ache, throb, twinge, or sharp stab, pain or discomfort in the breast or chest area isn't a good sign.

How it feels: One breast cancer survivor describes the pain she brought to her doctor's attention as a "sharp pain that comes and goes." Another describes it as "a mild electric sensation that went from my left breast to my right nipple."

What causes it: Breast tumors can take many different forms; there can be a single lump, but there can also be an area of scattered seed-like tumors or an amorphous shape with multiple tentacles extending into the tissue. The tumor might also be directly behind the nipple or in one of the milk ducts. All of these growths cause different types of pain and discomfort.

Scary stat: As many as 30 percent of all breast cancer tumors aren't lumps, which makes them harder to detect.

What to do: Keep track of when, where, and how often the pain occurs. Tell your doctor, being as specific as possible. Make sure to be clear that this is a new symptom, different from any other sensation (such as the sore breasts of PMS) you've experienced before. If your doctor diagnoses mastitis and prescribes antibiotics (a typical response to breast pain), take the full cycle. But if the pain hasn't gone away, inform your doctor and ask for additional tests. Many women are told repeatedly that they have mastitis before they're able to make clear to the doctor that this isn't the case.


about 1 month ago, said...

Hello, I am a 42yr old. I have been experiencing sharp pain in one of my breast, I went to my Gyne after my self exam and realizing that I have a large area with nothing there, like, NO TISSUE! The Gyne began the exam and got to that portion of my breast and snatched his hand back, saying he hadn't seen this before... He said that it appears that my breast tissue really is gone... Has anyone ever heard of this happening? I have never had any cysts or anything in that particular breast. I have not had periods in over 3 years now. I did nurse my daughter (17) for 3 years when she was born. Mammogram is over the wknd. Thanks for anyone words you can offer.


about 1 month ago, said...

Hello. Ian 23yrs old...frm 3days iam having pain in my breast n frm tdy even I am having upper back pain...n I haven't got my periods.last period was on sep 12


about 1 month ago, said...

Hi i am 31 mother of three and have been experiencing right breast pain since February 2016 I noticed a pain under my nipple and then realized I could feel something small in there like a smooshy spot with pain. I contacted my obgyn and was sent for a ultrasound. They sound a questionable spot and chose to take a core biopsy. The results in march were benign tumor and they recommended a mammogram in two years. Well May can and I was still in pain so I went to the ob again and was referred to a general surgeon who seemed to be more annoyed with my concerns then helpful and he suggested a mammogram every year and summed it up as fibrocystic changes. Now here I am in October and still having pain. It doesn't matter if I wear a bra or not if I wear underwire or not no matter what changes I make including cutting out soda and working out faithfully at the gym my breast still hurts even just to touch it. I'm at a loss and don't want to be a hypochondriac. I saw my ob again last week and was referred again for another ultrasound but he feels it's to soon for a mammogram. He wants to send me to a second general surgeon for a new opinion but I'm still waiting on that referral. My question is ... has anyone experienced this ? Am I crazy ? In my whole life even breast feeding I never had pain like this and I don't want to worry myself sick but any input or stories like mine to compare to would be great. Thanks in advance for your comments.


3 months ago, said...

Hi all! I'm 35 and have a family history of breast cx. My maternal grandmother had a mastectomy (not sure if it was single or double) and when my mother was 38-39 years old, they found pre-cancerous calcifications on her breasts. So now that you know a little history, I will explain where I am. For the past month or more, left breast has been extremely sore, tender and painful. Well that caused me to check for lumps. I discovered at least one lump/knot on my left breast. I made an appointment to see my PCP, who also felt a lump. She sent me to have a bilateral mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, if needed. I just got home from my appointment and all I get from the sonography tech is "there's nothing", and sent me on my way. You'd think I would be relieved that they didn't find anything, but they have not eased my mind. The tech said they couldn't even tell me why I had breast pain and felt a lump. She did say that I have dense breast tissue. Can't that make it harder to detect lumps or cancer? She didn't even do the ultrasound on my entire left breast. She asked me what area I felt the lump and she stuck to that side of my breast. I was so nervous for this appointment and my fears have not been eased one bit! How can someone not explain why I myself and my doctor felt a lump, I'm having breast pain and all I get is "there's nothing"?? The Radiologist didn't even speak to me. I'm sitting here thinking, do I just let this go? I don't know what to do! It's like they're making me feel like I'm imagining things. I've been left with no answers. Has anyone gone through something similar? Any advice anyone can give me??


4 months ago, said...

My left breast feels like someone is pulling and stretching and it burns do u have any ideal what that could be


4 months ago, said...

Can u pick up cancer through blood tests


6 months ago, said...

Hi I found a lump under my armpit and my nipple inverts sometimes. I also have brown patches on the same breat but not the other. Any help x


6 months ago, said...

Im unfortunately on my 2nd round of breast cancer. 2007 and now in 2016. I am devastated but holding on. I always heard that cancer does not hurt, well, yes it does. I caught both cancers early and found them myself. Im having a double mastectomy and breast augmentation...I dont know how to feel but most of the symptoms in this article were right on spot! I never knew there were symptoms other than feeling a lump or mass in your boobs.....Good information, Thank You


6 months ago, said...

I have a lump on my armpit could that be breast cancer


7 months ago, said...

Just turned 40. Had a mammogram done back in February and came back normal. I have a tender left breast and what feels like a deep itch in my nipple. I've had a swollen lymph node under my armpit which went away, and then I had a pain that swept from my ribcage to my nipple; but it only occurred when I was laying down and would turn over to my left side. Took my breath away when that happened but that pain also went away. I have no other symptoms but I'm getting nervous. I've been searching for an article about early signs of breast cancer. This and the comments really help. Thank you.


7 months ago, said...

Hi I'm 24 yrs old.. I had my baby when I was 21 yrs old.. I had infection on my breast when I breastfed.. after a year I found a lump near my nipple (above) I thought it was just a puss when I had.an infection.. but now it grows... so went to a dr. And had a biopsy.. the result will be nxt week.. I'm worried.. I'm too young if ever I will be diagnosed of ba.. what shall I do??


8 months ago, said...

Hi I'm 26 years old and I've been experiencing some of these symptoms. The first three. I've recently been to a doctor who prescribed me antibiotics to treat mastitis and to check back in one week. It's day 4 now but I still feel the same. My back has been hurting more recently. I'm really worried that I could be at risk of having cancer. I'm not sure what to do.


8 months ago, said...

I am taking the alternative approach to breast cancer. I have had a type of biopsy where the hospital carried out 7 biopsy procedures and seemed to suck out the lumps in my breast. Has anyone else experienced this kind of treatment?


11 months ago, said...

Ive got a question. A few years ago myleft breast would leak sort of green stuff and right blood ..one time it was a bright red and poured out .no insurance at the time but eventualy it stopped.it hasnt happened in over a year but a few days ago i found a pea size lump on right side that is hard and doesnt move around.you can actually feel it through my shirt. Should i be worried? I also have back pain in mid spine that feels like burning that now has moved between my shoulder blades. I do have to mention i am premenstrual im 41 had to have left tube and ovary removed due to it was enlarged full of cyst one popped when doc was draining it sp he removed it. I have most the time now two periods a month.any thoughts?


about 1 year ago, said...

I had a passed with breast lumps. had a biopsy done and everything seemed normal with the results the lump has grown a bit after that and now I am having sharp throbbing pain in my left breast and white discharge I asked my primary Doctor if it was normal she said not to worry about it.


over 1 year ago, said...

I have on and off breast pain, and tenderness, and I have felt a few lumps but heard its normal


over 1 year ago, said...

I'm having a sharp pain in my right breast that turns into a burning sensation. It comes and goes and it happens it I touchy breast or I bump it on something. I'm 30 years old and pretty worried. Breast cancer runs heavily in my family.


over 1 year ago, said...

My Mother had breast cancer and so did I. It was very helpful to read this information. Thank you so much.