Breast tumors can be a sign of breast cancer development, although many types of breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). This disease predominantly affects women, but men can also be diagnosed with it. Detecting any cancer, including breast cancer, at an early stage provides medical professionals and patients with the best opportunity to slow down or eliminate the disease. Being aware of breast cancer symptoms can aid in receiving a timely diagnosis, thus improving the chances of successful treatment.
One of the most well-known symptoms of breast cancer is the detection of a lump in the breast. These lumps can vary in size and texture, ranging from small and soft to feeling like a hard knot within the tissue. It’s important to note that not all breast lumps are indicative of cancerous tumor growth, as they are fairly common. However, if a lump persists or enlarges, it’s crucial to consult with a medical professional. In some cases, lumps may not be detectable until the cancer has advanced to later stages. Smaller growths that are not apparent during physical examination can sometimes be identified through a mammogram. A painless, hard mass with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous.
Altered Skin Appearance
Individuals with breast cancer may notice visible changes in their breast, often serving as early indicators of the disease. Symptoms can include itching or tingling sensations on the skin, redness, and swelling. In the case of inflammatory breast cancer, the skin may develop a dimpled appearance, resembling the texture of an orange peel.
In the early stages of breast cancer, the affected breast may appear completely normal. However, as the cancer progresses, swelling could become an indicator of a problem, although it may sometimes remain unnoticed. Swelling can also occur in the arm and underarm area on the same side of the body. This happens when cancerous lymph nodes under the arm become enlarged, obstructing and altering the flow of fluids throughout the body, ultimately leading to swelling.
Nipple discharge refers to any fluid that is released from the nipple. This discharge can vary in color, ranging from yellow or white to blood-tinged, and can be either quite liquid or thicker in consistency. In some instances, the discharge may resemble blood floating in mucus, and it may be accompanied by pain. If the discharge is present in both nipples, it is more likely to be caused by a condition outside the breast, such as hormonal imbalances. Conversely, if the discharge is only in one nipple, it could indicate a breast-related issue, such as an infection or cancer.
Persistent breast pain not related to the menstrual cycle is a reason to consult a doctor. As tumors within the breast grow, they can exert pressure on the surrounding breast tissue and chest, potentially leading to skin abrasions and ulcers as they reach the surface. Furthermore, when cancer spreads to the ribs, it can result in severe pain. Remember, early detection is crucial in the fight against breast cancer, so don’t hesitate to seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.
Individuals diagnosed with cancer may experience insomnia due to various factors, frequently stemming from the mental stress associated with managing their health condition. The presence of cancer can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, hindering the ability to achieve restful sleep. Additionally, depression and anxiety can interfere with sleep patterns or make falling asleep challenging. Furthermore, pain in the area surrounding the tumor may prevent sleep, as can certain anti-cancer treatments.
Fatigue or a constant feeling of lethargy is one of the most prevalent symptoms of breast cancer, regardless of its stage. While chemotherapy is known to cause fatigue, even before treatment begins, the body’s continuous efforts to combat the disease can lead to persistent tiredness that doesn’t subside with sleep. If you experience sleep issues that don’t improve and negatively affect your wellbeing, it’s crucial to discuss these concerns with your doctor.
Breast cancer, like any form of cancer, can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and upset stomach. This is primarily because cancer affects appetite and food absorption, often resulting in malnutrition. Furthermore, chemotherapy and other anti-cancer medications can suppress appetite. The stress associated with cancer can also exacerbate digestive difficulties. Additionally, some patients may develop food intolerances, leading them to avoid specific foods in an attempt to mitigate these side effects.
Breast cancer may cause shortness of breath as a symptom. This can arise from the size and location of the tumor within the breast or on the chest wall. In later stages of breast cancer, if the cancer has metastasized to the lungs, shortness of breath could be accompanied by wheezing or a dry, hacking cough. While difficulty breathing typically points to lung or heart disease, when it coincides with other early warning signs, it could also suggest advanced breast cancer.
Difficulty in Walking and Sitting
As the cancer progresses and spreads, a range of increasingly noticeable symptoms may emerge. Many individuals experience pain and discomfort in their bones, which are common sites for cancer to spread. Patients may suffer from significant pain and a reduced range of motion in their hips, pelvis, spine, arms, and legs. This can make everyday activities like walking or sitting challenging, ultimately limiting mobility. Additionally, when cancer metastasizes to the brain, symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, and headaches may also arise.