When was the last time you checked and felt your breasts?
Do you know how your breast feels normally?
Finding a lump or hard mass in your breast can be quite unsettling.
Is it better to wait it out or get it checked?
There is a lot of information to learn from how that lump feels.
Breast cancer tumors have strong, angular edges and are stiff.
They feel less like grapes and more like stone.
However, not everyone experiences malignant breast lumps in the same way.
Everyone has distinctive breasts and so are their tumors where what one person perceives as mushy may be firm or solid to another.
Certain breast tumors have a unique lumpy or bumpy texture to them.
Some can be moved about readily underneath the surface.
How aware are you of your breasts?
Well, fear not because this article will get you up to speed about what breast cancer feels like.
What is breast cancer and how does it develop?
Your breast tissue is the starting point of breast cancer.
A mass of tissue is produced when breast cells mutate (alter) and expand out of control (tumor).
Breast cancer can spread to the tissue surrounding your breast, much like other types of cancer.
Also, it could spread to other areas of your body and develop new tumors called metastasis.
Breast cancer develops when unchecked cell growth and division result in a mass of tissue known as a tumor.
Is it important to feel your breasts regularly?
Your breast health greatly depends on your awareness of how your breasts typically feel and appear.
Mammograms do not always detect breast cancer, despite the need for routine screening tests for the disease.
This implies that it’s crucial for you to be aware of how your breasts typically feel and appear so that you can notice any changes.
The most typical sign of breast cancer is a new tumor or lump, although most breast lumps are not cancerous.
Breast tumors can sometimes be soft, spherical, sensitive, or even painful, they are more likely to be cancerous if they are a painless, hard mass with uneven borders.
Medical care should be given to all breast lumps, may it be unusual lumps or bumps in the breast tissue, it should be checked out by a physician.
Who is the target audience for breast cancer?
The second most frequent malignancy in women after skin cancer is breast cancer.
Over 50-year-old women are the ones most likely to be affected.
Although uncommon, breast cancer can also strike males.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 2,700 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and 530 of them pass away as a result of the illness.
In contrast, according to the same figures, 287,850 women will receive a diagnosis, and 43,250 will pass away.
Compared to cisgender men, transgender women are more likely to acquire breast cancer.
In addition, compared to cisgender women, transgender males have a lower risk of breast cancer.
What are the early warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
Everybody’s breast cancer symptoms are unique.
Breast cancer symptoms include:
- A bulk in your breast that is pea-sized
- A change in the texture or appearance of your breast or nipple skin (dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed)
- A region on either breast that stands out as being very different from the others
- A firm region under your skin that resembles marble
- A clear or blood-colored discharge from your nipple
- A change in the size of your breast, shape, or contour
- A nipple that is turning inward a bulge beneath the armpit or around the collarbone of the arm
- A lump or thickening that lasts the whole of your menstrual cycle in or around your breast or underarm
Some people never ever detect any breast cancer symptoms and that’s why routine mammograms are so important.
If you encounter any of these signs, whether or not there is a lump present, you should visit your doctor.
These symptoms are frequently not brought on by malignancy.
To determine the cause, you and your doctor will need to do certain tests.
What does a breast lump feel like?
Not every breast cancer lump feels the same.
Whether a lump meets the most prevalent symptoms listed below, your doctor should nonetheless check it.
A breast malignant lump is most frequently:
- A painful hard mass
- Has uneven edges
- Does not move when pushed (immobile)
- Grows over time
- Appears in your breast’s higher outer region.
These criteria won’t be met by every malignant lump, and a cancerous lump with all of these characteristics is unusual.
Anywhere in the breast, you can develop a spherical, soft, or sensitive malignant lump that can be uncomfortable.
What are the risk factors of breast cancer?
It is not clear what precisely triggers the growth of abnormal cells in your breasts to start in the first place.
However, there are a number of risk factors that raise your risk of having breast cancer.
Depending on your lifestyle choices, you may be able to adjust certain risk factors but not others.
These consist of:
- Age: Your risk of breast cancer rises if you are 55 or older.
- Gender: Breast cancer is far more common in women than in males.
- Genetics: A tiny portion of breast cancers is brought on by genes that are handed down via families such as having mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes or in other genes.
- Family history: You have a higher chance of getting breast cancer at some time in your life if your parents, siblings, children, or other close relatives have one.
- Smoking: Smoking raises the chance of developing breast cancer, particularly in younger, premenopausal women.
- Race: Asian and Hispanic women are somewhat less likely than White and African-American women to get breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer, which is more aggressive and more likely to occur at a younger age, is more common among African-American women. Compared to White women, African-American women have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer.
- Alcohol consumption: Your chance of developing breast cancer increases with each drink you consume. A little amount of alcohol use is OK, but excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Obesity: Obesity can raise your chance of developing breast cancer and having it return.
- Benign breast disorders: Your chance of getting breast cancer is impacted by a few benign (noncancerous) breast disorders.
- Exposure to radiation: You are more likely to get breast cancer if you’ve previously undergone radiation therapy, especially to the head, neck, or chest.
- Hormone replacement therapy: Your risk of developing breast cancer increases if you have ever taken HRT or are presently doing so.
- History of periods: Your chance of developing breast cancer increases if you start menstruating young (before age 12).
- Age after menopause: You could be exposed to additional hormones if you have delayed menopause (beyond age 55), which raises your risks.
- Strong breast tissue: Women with thick breast tissue have a higher risk of getting cancer. The tissue can also make it more challenging to find the malignancy.
- Sedentary way of life: Breast cancer is more likely to affect women who do not exercise frequently than those who do.
- Not pregnant or breastfeeding: Never having been pregnant or having your first child after the age of 30 and not breastfeeding increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
Numerous more variables can raise your risk of acquiring breast cancer.
Find out whether you’re in danger by speaking with your healthcare practitioner.
What are the symptoms of male breast cancer?
Women receive the majority of breast cancer diagnoses.
Men can get breast cancer too, as they too have breast tissue, but males only get breast cancer in fewer than 1% of cases.
Men can get breast cancer symptoms in the same way that women do.
But, due to its rarity, you might not notice the signs until the disease spreads.
- A bump or a thick spot under your arms or in your breasts
- The appearance of redness, puckering, scales, or discharge on the breast or nipple skin
- An inward-turning nipple
- Nipple pain
- Discharge from the nipple
- Ulcers on the nipple or ring around the nipple or both
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits
Men can get breast cancer, which can metastasize and spread to other regions of the body as it does in women.
It is important to diagnose cancer early so that you can swiftly start treating cancer along with your doctor.
What are the stages of breast cancer?
The staging process indicates the extent of cancer in your body.
The size, location, and extent of the tumor, as well as whether the disease has spread to other parts of your body, all play a role in this decision.
The primary phases of breast cancer are:
Phase 0: The illness has no invasiveness which indicates that it hasn’t emerged from your breast ducts.
Phase I: The adjacent breast tissue has been infected with cancerous cells.
Phase II: The tumor is either less than 2 centimeters in diameter and has spread to the lymph nodes beneath the arms, or it is greater than 5 centimeters in diameter but hasn’t done so. At this stage, tumors may or may not impact the adjacent lymph nodes and range in size from 2 to 5 cm.
Phase III: Cancer has already spread past its original site at this time which could have expanded to neighboring lymph nodes and tissue, but it hasn’t reached distant organs. Breast cancer at stage III is typically referred to as locally progressed.
Phase IV: Your bones, liver, lungs, or brain are among the organs where cancer has metastasized outside of your breast. Metastatic breast cancer is another name for stage IV breast cancer.
How to perform a self-check for breast cancer?
You and your doctor can find suspicious breast areas using screening tools.
A typical screening option is a mammogram.
A self-breast exam is additional.
For many years, the self-exam was seen as a crucial component of early breast cancer identification.
Today, though, it could result in an excessive number of pointless surgeries and
However, your doctor could advise you to perform a self-exam.
The exam can at the very least provide you with a better understanding of the look, feel, and size of your breasts.
Knowing how your breasts should feel makes it easier for you to identify a potential issue:
1) Select a time: Waiting a few days following the end of your menstrual cycle is a good time since hormones affect how your breasts feel. If you don’t have a period, plan your self-examination for a day on the calendar that you can readily remember, like your favorite or lucky number.
2) Look at it: In front of a mirror, stand and take off your top and bra. Examine your breasts to see if there have been any changes to their symmetry, shape, size, or color. Repeat the visual examination while raising both arms, paying attention to how your breasts change in size and form as your arms are raised.
3) Examine every breast: After finishing the visual examination, lie down on a bed or sofa. Look for lumps, cysts, or other abnormalities by feeling them with the sensitive pads of your fingertips. Start from your nipple and spiral outward toward your breastbone and armpits to maintain the examination consistently. Repeat this step on the opposite side.
4) Firmly press your nipple: To check for any discharge, gently pinch each nipple.
5) Repeat in the shower: Make one last check in the shower by running your fingers over your breasts, you can make the manual inspection simpler by using warm water and soap. Work your way out in a spiral motion beginning at your nipple. Continue with your other breast.
6) Maintain a journal: Although little changes could be difficult to notice, keeping a journal could enable you to track changes as they happen. Any anomalous locations should be noted and checked again in a few weeks. Visit your physician if you discover any lumps.
Some medical organizations no longer advise women to conduct routine self-exams.
How is breast cancer treated?
Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted medication therapy are just a few of the breast cancer treatments available.
The position and size of the tumor, the outcomes of your lab tests, and if cancer has spread to other regions of your body are just a few of the variables that will determine what’s best for you.
Your treatment plan will be customized by your healthcare professional to meet your individual needs and you can also receive a mix of different therapies.
A region of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor as well as the diseased section of your breast is removed during breast cancer surgery.
Depending on your circumstances, there are several forms of surgery, including:
A lumpectomy, often known as a partial mastectomy, involves the removal of the tumor plus a thin margin of healthy tissue surrounding it.
Most often, a few lymph nodes in the breast or beneath the arm are also removed for analysis.
In the weeks following a lumpectomy, radiation treatment is frequently administered to the patient.
Another choice is to have your entire breast removed.
Doctors can occasionally conduct a nipple-sparing mastectomy to protect your areola and nipple.
Following a mastectomy, many women opt to have either immediate or delayed breast reconstruction.
Axillary lymph node dissection:
Dissection of axillary lymph nodes will be performed to remove any lymph nodes that the malignancy has spread to.
Several of the lymph nodes under your arm must be removed (your axilla).
Biopsy of a sentinel node:
The sentinel node biopsy was created to avoid the needless removal of a significant number of lymph nodes that are not affected by cancer since early identification of breast cancer typically results in the lymph nodes being negative for cancer.
Doctors inject a dye that tracks the first lymph node that cancer would spread to in order to locate the sentinel lymph node.
Other lymph nodes do not need to be removed if that lymph node is cancer-free.
Additional lymph nodes may need to be removed if that lymph node contains malignancy.
There is frequently more than one sentinel node found, however, the fewer lymph nodes removed, the lower the risk of arm swelling (lymphedema).
Either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy can be combined with a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
Modified Radical mastectomy:
Your whole breast as well as your nipple are removed during this treatment.
Your chest muscles are not affected, but nearby lymph nodes beneath your arms are taken out.
If desired, breast reconstruction is frequently a possibility.
Breast cancer chemotherapy:
Before performing a lumpectomy, your doctor may advise chemotherapy for breast cancer in an effort to reduce the size of the tumor.
It is sometimes administered following surgery to eliminate any cancer cells that could still be present and lower the chance of recurrence.
Your healthcare practitioner can suggest chemotherapy as your primary treatment if cancer has spread from your breast to other places in your body.
Nowadays, unless the breast cancer has gone to your chest wall muscles, this surgery is rarely used.
Your surgeon will remove your whole breast, nipple, underarm lymph nodes, and chest wall muscles during a radical mastectomy.
Breast reconstruction may be chosen by those who have this treatment.
Breast cancer radiation treatment:
After a mastectomy or lumpectomy, radiation therapy for breast cancer is frequently used to eradicate any leftover cancer cells.
Individual metastatic tumors that are hurting or producing other issues can also be treated with it.
Cancer immunotherapy for breast:
Immunotherapy targets and destroys breast cancer cells by harnessing the strength of your own immune system.
It is administered intravenously through a vein in your arm or hand.
Immunotherapy and chemotherapy could be used by your doctor to treat breast cancer.
Treatment with hormones for breast cancer:
Hormones like progesterone and estrogen are used by some kinds of breast cancer to fuel their growth.
Hormone treatment can either reduce estrogen levels in certain situations or prevent estrogen from binding to breast cancer cells.
After surgery, hormone treatment is most frequently used by medical professionals to lower the possibility of breast cancer recurrence.
However, they could also use it to treat cancer that has spread to other regions of your body or to reduce the tumor before surgery.
Breast cancer medication treatment with specific targets:
Some medications can specifically target cancer-causing cell traits.
If your breast cancer has spread to other parts of your body, your doctor could advise you to take targeted medication therapy.
Monoclonal antibodies such as trastuzumab, pertuzumab, and margetuximab, antibody-drug conjugates such as ado-trastuzumab emtansine and fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan, and kinase inhibitors are some of the most popular medications used to treat breast cancer such as lapatinib, neratinib and tucatinib.
When should you seek medical help?
If you notice any signs that might be breast cancer, then you should see a doctor.
Although a doctor can help rule this out, the majority of bumps are not malignant.
Before a bulge is evident, screening can help identify changes.
Breast cancer is simpler to treat at this point.
It is advised for women to start talking to their doctors about breast cancer screening around the age of 40.
Also, having a mammogram every two years from the ages of 50 to 74 for those who are at average risk of developing breast cancer.
A higher-risk population will require more frequent screening, such as individuals with a family history of breast cancer.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
Your doctor will check your breasts and enquire about your family history, medical history, and any current symptoms in addition to performing the breast exam.
Plus, your doctor will advise testing to look for abnormalities in your breasts.
These tests consist of:
Mammogram: By using these specialized X-ray photos, your breast alterations or abnormal growths can be found. Mammograms are frequently used to screen for breast cancer.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning: A PET scan highlights suspicious spots using specific dyes. Your doctor performs this test by injecting a specific dye into your veins while the scanner captures images.
Ultrasonography: The inside tissues of your breast are photographed during this examination using sound waves. It aids in the diagnosis of breast anomalies or masses.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Using magnets and radio waves, precise and detailed pictures of the internal breast structures are produced to check for malignancy.
Your healthcare practitioner could do a breast tissue biopsy if they notice anything worrisome on the imaging tests.
The sample will be sent to a pathology lab for examination.
How to live with breast cancer?
Depending on the stage of the disease and the type of therapy you will get, receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can have a variety of effects on everyday life.
Each person deals with the diagnosis and therapy differently.
Several types of help are available if you need them.
- Family and friends, who can be a strong support system are examples of support systems
- Talking with others who are experiencing the same thing
- Learning as much as you can about your health, without pushing yourself too hard, and taking care of yourself
In conclusion, a lump in the breast could possibly be a sign of cancer, particularly if it is firm, painless, and has an uneven edge.
However, there are a wide variety of breast cancer symptoms, and inflammatory breast cancer often does not cause a lump.
Breast cancer can be prevented or lessened in severity by being aware of breast changes, getting routine screenings, and seeking medical attention when changes take place.
You alone are responsible for your own body.
So, make sure to seek the advice of your doctor if you discover a lump or if you have any strange symptoms.
During a physical examination, your doctor could be able to evaluate if your bump is likely to be malignant or not.
It is okay to ask for more testing to identify your lump if you have any concerns about the new symptoms and indications.
Trust your gut feelings and instincts about your own body as you know your body best.
Only you will be aware of the slight changes in your body that others will otherwise not notice so be aware and be conscious and take control of your own health.