Breast cancer is a serious disease. While breast cancer is far more common in women (100 times more than men), it’s possible for men to develop it, too. In order to catch the disease in its early stages, it’s important to recognize the signs that may lead to breast cancer so it can be caught early, thus preventing the need for more complex and serious treatment.

Mammograms can detect breast cancer before there are any outward signs, making annual mammograms a vital factor in early breast cancer detection. However, monthly BSE’s, or breast self-examinations, are also a reliable way to detect developed lumps that may be breast cancer. By routinely examining your breast, you can familiarize yourself with its normal texture, size, and skin condition.

Lumps, swelling in the breasts, or swelling under the armpit (lymph nodes) are common signs of breast cancer. A lump that is painless and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. Sometimes, however, lumps can be tender, soft and rounded. Because of all this uncertainty, it’s important for a doctor to examine any lumps you may find. Doctors are the only qualified individuals who can accurately diagnose abnormalities.

Changing of the skin around the nipple and breasts could be signs of breast cancer. The skin around the nipple may become scaly, reddened, flaky or dimply (pitted). The dimply/pitted area can be compared to an orange. Any abnormal colors or textures on any part of the breast could be signs of cancer and should be examined by a doctor. These changes may occur on one or both breasts.

The size and shape of the breast are also indicators of breast cancer. If one or both breasts get larger, it could be a sign of cancer, though unexplained reductions in breast size can also be a sign of cancer. If you notice any change in breast size, a doctor should be consulted immediately.

The nipple should also be carefully monitored. If there is discoloration or flaking, it’s important to get to your doctor for testing as soon as possible. Discharges, either clear or bloody, from the nipple other than breast milk can also be a sign of breast cancer.

Early signs of breast cancer do not usually present pain, but if you experience unusual, persistent pain in your nipples or breast, you should consult your doctor.

Any or all of these signs can be symptoms of less serious, non-cancerous conditions, such as an infection or a cyst. Having your doctor take a look will ease your worry, and if anything is found you’ll be able to take care of it quickly.

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