Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women worldwide and in India. It can be treated successfully if detected early, but many women ignore the warning signs and delay seeking medical help. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of breast cancer and how to prevent it.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
The symptoms of breast cancer may vary from person to person, but some of the common ones are:
- A hard, painless lump in the breast or underarm area. The lump may have irregular edges and may not move when touched.
- A change in the size, shape, or appearance of the breast. The breast may become swollen, red, or dimpled like an orange peel.
- A change in the nipple, such as inversion, discharge, or eczema-like rash. The discharge may be bloody or clear and may occur only in one breast.
- A swelling or lump in the collarbone or armpit area. This may indicate that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
- Pain or discomfort in the breast or nipple area.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer, as they can also be caused by other benign conditions such as infections, cysts, or hormonal changes. However, it is important to consult a doctor if you notice any of these changes and get them checked as soon as possible.
How to prevent breast cancer?
There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk and improve your chances of early detection. These include:
- Getting regular screening tests such as clinical breast examination and mammography. These tests can help find breast cancer before it causes any symptoms and increase the chances of successful treatment. Women above 30 years of age should get a clinical breast examination every year and a mammogram every two years or as advised by their doctor.
- Performing self-breast examination every month. This can help you become familiar with your breasts and notice any changes that may need further evaluation. You can do this by looking at and feeling your breasts in front of a mirror, lying down, or in the shower.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and alcohol, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight. These habits can help boost your immune system and lower your risk of developing various types of cancer.
- Being aware of your family history and genetic factors. If you have a close relative who had breast cancer, especially at a young age or in both breasts, you may have a higher risk of developing it yourself. You may also have inherited mutations in certain genes such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 that increase your risk of breast cancer. You can talk to your doctor about genetic testing and counseling if you have a strong family history of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is a serious disease that affects millions of women around the world. By being aware of its symptoms and prevention strategies, you can take charge of your health and fight against it.