The American Cancer Society recommends that women at average risk for breast cancer should start scheduling annual mammograms to screen for the condition between the ages of 40 and 44. Unfortunately, breast cancer is not an uncommon diagnosis, and while these cancers affect mostly women, men are also at risk. As more people become aware of the early signs of breast cancer, those younger than 40 or between screening tests can recognize the telltale changes in their breasts that warrant a consultation with a medical professional.
Highly trained and experienced physicians are available for screening tests, diagnoses, and treatments through the breast and women’s health services at Richmond University Medical Center. Find out more about this condition and what patients should look for during a self-exam.
Why Check for Breast Cancer at Home?
When patients are familiar with the early signs of breast cancer, they can help themselves, family members, and friends. This is knowledge to use and share with others. The benefit of early detection is that there are often more breast cancer treatment plans available. Caught in early stages, cancerous cells are usually confined to a smaller area and may not have spread to other parts of the body. While several different types of breast cancers can affect patients, treating them in the early stages can make for a much better prognosis.
Common Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
Everyone’s body has unique characteristics, and breasts vary in appearance from person to person. One way to increase breast wellness is for patients to pay attention to the area. Being in tune with your body allows you to easily notice small changes and report them to a physician when concerns arise. Some of the early signs of breast cancer include:
Lump in the breast or under the arm
Breasts often swell and change a bit during the menstrual cycle. However, if a lump is hard and does not go away or you notice a thickened area with a different feel than normal, you should bring it to the attention of a healthcare professional.
Pain in the breast and/or nipple
When pain is persistent, it is best not to ignore it. Patients should have a medical professional check their breasts.
Noticeable changes in appearance
Take notice of any changes to the skin of the breast, including the nipples. Even if the breast has flaky or peeling skin, it should be brought to the attention of a physician. Some questions to consider include:
- Has the shape of the breast suddenly changed?
- Does one breast appear larger than the other?
- Are the nipples indented or appear flat?
- Is the skin dimpled or rough?
- Is there a skin rash or discoloration?
Nipple discharge should be monitored and reported to a medical team, especially if the patient is not currently breastfeeding. Whether it is an infection or an early sign of breast cancer, this is a cause for concern. Discharge can vary widely in appearance and can be thin and watery, bloody or brown, yellow and green, or sometimes sticky. If the nipple is flattened or retracted, if there are visible sores, or if it itches or burns, make an appointment to see a physician.
Unexpected weight loss
It is always a good idea for a patient to get a checkup if they experience unplanned weight loss. Other related symptoms might be nausea or constipation. When the ability to digest food has changed and is problematic, that is also a good time to make an appointment for a thorough examination.
Receive Breast Cancer Care at Richmond University Medical Center
At Richmond University Medical Center, breast clinical services are available at the Breast and Women’s Center. Services include screening and diagnosis of breast cancer, and physicians are available to answer specific questions related to a patient’s breast health. Learning about the risk factors in a patient’s medical history can also help with breast cancer prevention.
Knowing the early signs of breast cancer can help patients detect problems before they become worse. Get regular examinations by a specialist at Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, New York. Schedule your annual mammogram at our Breast Imaging Center or contact us today for more information.