Breast cancer is an incredibly serious issue facing individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It is estimated that in 2019 alone, over 268,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States alone (American Cancer Society). Breast cancer is a particularly difficult disease to treat due to its varied forms and stages of progression. As such, it is important for people to be aware of the symptoms associated with breast cancer in order to catch it early and receive proper treatment.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast tissue. This lump can be either painless or painful, depending on the type and stage of the cancer. Other symptoms may include changes in the size or shape of the breast, dimpling or puckering of the skin on the breast, redness or scaliness on the nipple or areola area, discharge from one or both nipples that may contain blood, and swelling underneath the armpit (Mayo Clinic). While these symptoms do not necessarily indicate that an individual has breast cancer, they should still be taken seriously and checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
Early detection is key when it comes to treating any form of cancer. For this reason, women should begin performing monthly self-examinations at age 20 and should also have regular checkups with their doctor starting at age 40 (American Cancer Society). These check-ups generally include a physical exam by a doctor as well as mammograms which can help detect any signs of breast cancer before they become visible to the naked eye.
In addition to regular check-ups and self-exams, there are other steps that people can take in order to reduce their risk for developing breast cancer. These steps include maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise; limiting alcohol consumption; avoiding smoking; limiting exposure to radiation; avoiding hormone therapy (unless prescribed by a doctor); getting enough rest; eating plenty of fruits and vegetables; breastfeeding if possible; wearing sunscreen when outside; reducing stress levels; practicing safe sex; getting vaccinated against certain viruses such as HPV; and being aware of family history (American Cancer Society).
Although there is no surefire way to prevent all forms of breast cancer, taking these steps can help reduce ones risk for developing it. Through education about symptoms and risk factors as well as regular check-ups with your doctor, individuals can work towards catching any signs of this serious disease early so that they can receive proper treatment right away.