From Sinai-Grace Healthy Living Newsletter
DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital (SGH)
Because of the increased use of routine screening mammograms, breast cancer is diagnosed in many women before they have any physical signs.
“The good news is that we have mammography, a technology that can detect breast cancer long before we can find it during a physical examination or during breast self-examination,” says Keiva Bland, M.D., a general surgeon who specializes in breast surgery. “However, all women should be aware of the symptoms of breast disease so if they have one of these warning signs they get it checked out by their doctor.”
The most common symptoms of breast disease are:
* A lump, hard knot or thickening.
* Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening. This could just be a skin infection or abscess. If treatment for the condition donot clear up the problem in one to two weeks, see your doctor. These could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, one of the more aggressive forms of the disease.
* Change in the size or shape of the breast. Watch for a bulge or one breast suddenly getting bigger.
* Dimpling or puckering of the skin. Tumors can change the structure of the breast, causing this symptom.
* Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple. This may be just a skin condition, such as excema, or an allergic
reaction, such as contact dermatitis. But if treatment for those conditions doesn’t clear it up, go see your doctor.
* Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast. Certain types of breast tumors grow in the ducts leading to the nipple or pull on the supporting structure of the breast, Dr. Bland explains.
*New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away. Caffeine can also cause pain, as can an injury.
* Nipple discharge that starts suddenly. Caffeine, some medications and hormonal changes due to the menstrual cycle can also cause nipple discharge. If it is bloody, occurs only in one breast, or doesn’t go away after two menstrual cycles, see your physician, says Dr. Bland.
|Dr. Keiva Bland
DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital
If you have any of these symptoms, discuss them with your physician right away. Dr. Bland strongly recommends all women practice monthly breast self-examination and receive a screening mammogram according to recommended guidelines.
“As more women have regular mammograms, the number of women who have cancer caught at a very early stage when it is most treatable is increasing,” Dr. Bland says. “Women should not be afraid of what a mammogram might find, because most masses in the breast are benign or non-cancerous. Only about 20 percent of women diagnosed with breast disease have cancer,” Dr. Bland says.
If you need to find a primary care physician, please visit our DMC "Find A Doctor" page at http://www.dmc.org/physicians.
For more information on breast cancer symptoms and general health information, please visit our DMC Health Library page at http://www.dmc.org/healthlibrary.