What you need to know about Breast Cancer

Breast cancer no longer poses the same threats as it did some 20 years ago because survival rates are skyrocketing, thanks to greater awareness, scientific and technological improvement on early detection, and advances in treatment.

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An estimated 250,000 Americans are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, but there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful.

Breast cancer doesn’t often show specific symptoms, however, there may be other tip-offs from your body’s reaction which you may consider reporting to a doctor. Breast pain, for instance, can also be a symptom of cancer but it’s not common.

Other symptoms worth noting are:

  1. A painless lump in the breast
  2. Changes in breast size or shape
  3. Swelling in the armpit
  4. Nipple changes or discharge


Inflammatory breast cancer is another rare, fast-spreading type which rarely causes a distinct lump, but remarkably transforms breast skin into a thick, red, somewhat pitted, and orange-like peel. According to health experts, the affected area might also feel warm or tender and have small bumps that look like rashes.

Treatments for breast cancer are readily available with mammograms.

An early discovery of the disease makes it easier to treat through mammograms, an X-ray of the breast, which has the capability to show tumors before they get large enough to feel.

The American Cancer Society says women with an average risk level (45 to 54 years old) should get a yearly mammogram, and adds that those aged 55 and above should consider such checkups every 2 years.

“Continue them as long as you’re in good health,” the society advised.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force also instructed that every woman below 50 to converse with her doctor about the need for testing.

“After that, get a mammogram every 2 years from age 50 to 74,” the PSTF advised, stressing that you don’t have to stop even at 75.

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An ultrasound and MRI are other extra steps your doctor may take to provide thorough checks on your exposure to breast cancer. These tests offer clear pictures of the inside of your body; a breast ultrasound can help find cysts (fluid-filled sacs that most often aren’t cancer).

To be on a safe side, you should consider getting an MRI along with a mammogram as part of your routine testing, especially if you have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Self-exams are also advised for every woman, and according to a doctor’s advice, women should do this at least once every month although studies show that these exams play a very small role in finding cancer compared to other testing methods.

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If you find a lump in your body, don’t panic, because over 80% of breast lumps aren’t cancerous, doctors said. They could be harmless cysts or tissue changes related to your menstrual circle, but there’s no harm in letting your doctor know about it. An early detection makes it easier to treat, and the test can go a long way in assuaging your fears.