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breast cancer, mammograms, oncology

10 signs of Breast Cancer that women delaying mammograms during COVID-19 must beware

Under normal situations, oncology professionals recommend women between the ages of 50 and 74 with an average risk for breast cancer to undergo annual mammogram screenings. 

But the times you’re living in are far from normal. 

Ideally, if you do not witness the warning signs, you would do well to delay your mammogram test until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. Do not let this perilous circumstance limit your ability to check if you require immediate medical help.

But a lump in the breast is not the only telltale for developing malignant tissue. Keep an eye open for the following ten symptoms to secure the help you need.

1. Development of breast lumps

This is the most frequently spoken of breast cancer symptom, and one that you might be aware of. But not all the lumps are cancerous. 

A malignant lump in your breast would be soft and small. It can appear like a hard knot in the developing tissue. You can feel thickening within your chest or in your underarm area. 

When you distinguish these alarming lumps, be sure to connect with your medic.

2. Changes in the breast skin

It is a point of concern if you notice changes to the skin texture or the appearance of your breast. When a tumour develops in your breast, the lymph nodes will get blocked. This would cause itching and tingling across the skin of your chest.

In inflammatory breast cancer, your skin can assume a swollen and dimpled look. Your breast skin might even turn red. 

While it’s common for you to assume the colour changes in your breast for a bruise, if it doesn’t fade away soon, then it might be more serious. 

3. Swelling in Breast, Arm, and Underarm

Despite having cancerous cells in their earlier stages, your breast would look perfectly normal. But as the cancer advances, your breast swells. 

Additionally, if you’re developing a tumour in your right breast, your right sidearm and the underarm area will also swell, and vice versa. This condition occurs when the lymph nodes in your breast and arms become cancerous. 

These lymph nodes block your body fluids and alter the way they flow in your body. Therefore, if you discover any inflammation, you must schedule a consultation.

4. Discharge from nipples

If you notice any discharge other than milk from your nipples, that’s a warning sign. 

The nipple discharge could be yellow, resembling pus, or be as red as blood. It might appear as though blood pockets are floating in mucus. If the consistency of the discharge is either too runny or too thick, it could be a sign of danger. 

Since pain may or may not accompany these discharges, don’t underplay it. 

5. Excruciating pain in the breast

As the tumour in your breast develops, you will naturally experience pain as pressure is applied to different parts of your chest. So, even while feeling the mildest pain, see your doctor.

Prolonging your consultation would give room for the tumour to grow. It can reach the skin to afflict you with skin abrasions and painful ulcers.

6. Difficulty in sleeping

Of the various signs and symptoms of breast cancer, insomnia is the most neglected one. Paired with anxious thoughts and stabbing pains in your breasts, you could find great difficulty in falling asleep. 

Don’t take it lightly if you’re unable to sleep easily with zero pains. It’s always best to seek guidance when alarmed. 

7. Experiencing extreme fatigue

Irrespective of patients in their early stages of cancer or undergoing chemotherapy, feeling fatigued and lethargic is a common symptom of breast cancer.

Chemotherapy exerts a paramount of fatigue to the one undergoing the treatment. But aside from this, if you face extreme tiredness coupled with other symptoms of breast cancer, it’s time to have a word with your doctor.

8. Having stomach troubles

All forms of cancer are known to cause stomach-related ailments such as constipation, diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach upsets. 

Ideally, patients with this symptom avoid certain kinds of food as a proactive measure to relieve digestive troubles. This leads to a lack of fibre and calcium intake in their diet. As a result, other maladies can cause greater pain and discomfort in their stomach areas. 

While medications can temporarily ease the discomfort, you must take counsel from your medic to address the malignant issue. 

9. Encountering shortness of breaths

Doctors associate generalised shortness of breath with breast cancer. This is because, as the tumour in your breast grows in size, its position against the wall of your chest can make it difficult to breathe. 

Further, if it has spread to the lungs, you can experience a shortness of breath in accompaniment with dry coughs or wheezing. 

You’re not at risk of breast cancer solely with this symptom. However, if you detect warning signs in conjunction with shortness of breath, book an appointment with your doctor. 

10. Finding difficulty in walking  and sitting

As breast cancer spreads, a variety of symptoms would surface, and one of them is finding difficulty in walking and sitting postures. 

Since the easily affected part of your body besides your breasts is your bones, you could experience pain with differing motions in your spine, pelvis, arms, and legs. This makes sitting down or walking around laborious.

When should you see your doctor?

Bear in mind that the last five warning signs might be an indication of other ailments. For this reason, it’s best not to assume that you have breast cancer when you discover only one symptom from the latter half of this list. 

Then, when should you be alarmed?

  • Formation of lumps in the breasts
  • Changes in the appearance and texture of the breasts
  • Swelling of the breasts, arms, and underarms
  • Unusual discharges from the nipples
  • Excruciating pain in the breasts

Should you feel any of these symptoms, seek medical help at the earliest or book an appointment with the best doctor near you.

Dr. Rohan Khandelwal
Author: Dr. Rohan Khandelwal
Dr. Rohan Khandelwal is a renowned surgeon who has completed his fellowship in breast oncology and advanced breast surgery from esteemed institutes like The Aiello Breast Center, University of Maryland. He has garnered over 17 years of clinical experience from some of the most reputed healthcare facilities across the country. He specializes in benign and cancerous breast disorders in both genders. He is also the editor in chief for the New Indian Journal of Surgery and Journal of Young Medical Researcher.
 
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