What Are Early Signs of Breast Cancer?

woman breast cancer awarenessIf you’ve noticed pain or tenderness in your breasts, you may be worried that your symptoms could signal breast cancer. Luckily, after a visit to the doctor, most women will learn that their pain is due to any number of minor conditions, while most lumps are harmless, benign growths.

What Are the Main Causes of Breast Pain?

When it comes to breast cancer, breast pain, also called mastalgia, is usually not the first symptom. Breast pain is typically caused by the following factors:

  • Hormone fluctuations due to menstruation
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Side effects of fertility treatments
  • Benign cysts
  • Wearing the wrong size bra
  • Overly large breasts that cause pain
  • Stress

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Painless lumps are the most common early signs of breast cancer. The following symptoms are also early indicators of breast cancer:

  • A change to the shape of the nipple
  • Breast pain that lingers well after the end of your period
  • Presence of a new lump that remains after the end of your period
  • Nipple discharge that’s red, yellow, brown, or clear
  • New rashes, redness, swelling, or itching
  • Lumps or swelling near the collarbone or under the arm

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have breast cancer. Nipple discharge can be due to an infection, and there are many conditions that can cause benign breast lumps. However, it’s important to see your doctor if you do have any of these symptoms to get a diagnosis.

What Are the Testing Options?

Your doctor may perform one or more of the following tests during your appointment for breast pain, tenderness, or a lump. These tests include:

Physical Exam

Your doctor will visually inspect your breast skin, check for problems with the nipples and discharge, and feel your breast tissue and underarms to examine lumps.

Take Your Medical History

Breast cancer runs in families, so your doctor will want to know if your mother, sisters, or grandmothers have a history of breast cancer and at what age it began.

Mammogram

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts that can show lumps and other abnormalities.
Ultrasound-This test uses sound waves to produce an image of the breast.

MRI

This test is used in conjunction with mammograms and ultrasound to provide a clearer picture of breast tissue.

Biopsy

This test involves removing a piece of affected breast tissue to test for cancer.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Treatment options vary depending on the type of breast cancer detected and its stage. Common treatments include:

Lumpectomy

Surgical removal of only the cancerous lump

Mastectomy

Surgical removal of all breast tissue that includes the cancerous growth and connecting tissue

Chemotherapy

Administering anti-cancer drugs that disrupt the cells’ capacity to reproduce

Radiation

X-ray treatment to kill cancer cells

Hormone Therapy

Useful when breast cancer is caused by genes or specific hormones

Getting a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40 is the single best tool in the early detection of breast cancer. At PURE Mammography, we offer the latest 3D mammogram technology for our patients. Our board-certified radiologists are fully trained in studying 3D mammograms and are dedicated to providing outstanding service to their patients. PURE is conveniently located inside Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, NY. With a spa-like atmosphere and no appointment necessary, stop by today or contact us for more information.

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