Breast Cancer: Signs And Symptoms
Definition of breast cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the lining of the milk ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple). Another type of breast cancer is lobular carcinoma, which begins in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. Invasive breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread from where it began in the breast ducts or lobules to surrounding normal tissue. Breast cancer occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.
In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed among US women, as well as an estimated 64,640 additional cases of in situ breast cancer.
Cancer affects everyone – the young and old, the rich and poor, men, women and children – and represents a tremendous burden on patients, families and societies. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world, particularly in developing countries.
Breast cancer incidence rates are highest in non-Hispanic white women, followed by African American women and are lowest among Asian/Pacific Islander women. In contrast, breast cancer death rates are highest for African American women, followed by non-Hispanic white women. Breast cancer death rates are lowest for Asian/Pacific Islander women. Breast cancer incidence and death rates also vary by state.
Checking your breasts regularly can be crucial to early diagnosis of breast cancer, which increases the chances of successful treatment.
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Stay breast aware and follow these five easy steps:
1. Know what is normal for you
2. Look and feel your breasts (upper chest and armpits too)
3. Know what changes
to look for (see below)
Report any changes without delay to your GP
Make sure you attend breast screening if you’re 50 or over
What should I be looking for?
Everyone’s breasts are different; altering with age and at different times of the month. Lookout for changes that are unusual for you, such as:
1. lumps or thickening of breast tissue
2. continuous pain in a breast or armpit
3. one breast becoming larger or lower
4. puckering or dimpling of the skin
5. nipples becoming inverted (turned in), changing shape or position
6. nipples developing a rash, crusting or producing discharge
7. swelling under the armpits or around the collarbone.
Not all lumps are cancerous – they may be benign cysts or overgrowth of tissue. But it is always important to report any changes to your GP.