One of the most common locations for a breast tumor is just beneath the nipple, which can cause changes in the appearance and feel of the nipple itself. In particular, nipple changes are often the giveaway for men with breast cancer.
You know how the lymph nodes in your neck and throat can feel sore when you have the flu? Any pain in the armpit is a sign to check the area carefully with your fingers. A lump under the armpit is likely to be hard and attached to surrounding tissues, so it doesn’t move when you touch it. Or tissue may feel thickened and dense compared with the armpit on the other side.
How it feels: Like a sore or tender spot under the arm. You may also feel a lump, though not necessarily. Affected lymph nodes may feel swollen or tender or develop a lump before a tumor is big enough to be felt in the breast itself. In some women, the swelling is more prominent under the arm or up under the collarbone.
What causes it: The lymph nodes in your armpit are where breast cancer spreads first, by way of lymphatic fluid that drains from the breast. Since the lymph nodes are the first place it’s likely to metastasize, breast cancer is staged according to whether it’s lymph-node positive or negative.
Scary stat: If breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate declines to 84 percent, as compared with 98 percent for node-negative breast cancer.
What to do: Colds, flu, and infection can also cause swollen lymph nodes, so if you’re sick or have an infection, wait for it to clear up before you worry. But if a lump or tender spot in the underarm area persists for a week with no apparent cause, see your doctor.
Breast cancer warning sign #7: Red, swollen breasts
When your breasts hurt, it’s easy to conclude that it’s the typical soreness of PMS. And if your breasts feel hot or look reddened, you might suspect an infection such as mastitis. But these are also signs of inflammatory breast cancer.
How it feels: It’s as if your breasts have a fever. They may feel swollen and sore, or the skin and underlying tissue may feel hot or look red or even purple.
What causes it: Inflammatory breast cancer is the most likely cause of this symptom. But breast tumors can also push on tissues, causing breasts to feel swollen and sore. In this case, you may also see, upon checking, that your breast is distended.
Scary stat: Once breast cancer has spread beyond the breast (stage IV), the average survival is less than four years. So it’s extremely important to detect breast cancer as early as possible.
What to do: Call your doctor right away about any symptom that could be inflammatory breast cancer. If the pain is diagnosed as mastitis and you’re prescribed antibiotics, you should feel better within a week to ten days. If you don’t, call your doctor and be assertive about additional tests.
About the Author: Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, is responsible for Caring.com’s coverage of cancer, general health, and family finance, discovered how important it is to provide accurate, targeted, usable health information to people facing difficult decisions when she was health editor of Parenting magazine. She has written about health and family-related issues for magazines such as Health , Real Simple , Woman’s Day , Yoga Journal , and websites such as BabyCenter.com, WebMD, and the Blue Cross/Blue Shield websites (aHealthyMe.com, aHealthyAdvantage.com) managed by Consumer Health Interactive. Melanie has held positions as Executive Editor at the Industry Standard and BabyCenter.com , and Managing Editor at San Francisco magazine. She has also worked for San Francisco’s renowned Center for Investigative Reporting. She has a master’s degree in Journalism and a B.A. in English, both from the University of California at Berkeley.
Remember, a mammogram may not detect breast cancer if you have Dense Breast Tissue. Many women aren’t even aware they have it.
40% of women have that. Your doctor may not even if tell you. That’s why one fellow Italian woman in Connecticut went to legislatures to make it a law to notify women within her community. Her doctor didn’t notify her and her breast cancer spread because it wasn’t caught early. And she had no prior family history of it.
SO many women I’ve interviewed share similar stories.
The issue is dense breast tissue and cancer or tumors both show up as white on images. It’s like finding a snowball in a snowstorm. The good news is there is technology to help radiologists differentiate between the two on existing mammogram images. As someone who follows medical/health, this is the best use of Artificial Intelligence.
It’s from a company called CureMetrix, and I’ll share more about it soon.
It’s frustrating when networks do stories on Dense Breast Tissue or Breast Cancer Awareness and repeat the same information without proving progress being made for patients and providers. It leaves millions of women (and 1% of men) misinformed.
It makes you wonder if the doctor reporting health news is tied to the hospital they work at and have to promote the status quo, rather than what’s best for healthcare consumers.
If mammograms are the gold standard in care, followed by an ultrasound if you have dense breast tissue, why are SO many dying from undetected breast cancer? Why so many call-backs when there’s something “suspicious” on an image. The waiting time between appointments causes women so much stress.
Ironically, stress and anxiety causes your body to go into a state of sickness. It’s the complete opposite state you need. Your body and mind have amazing abilities to heal when you get into a calm state.
There has to be a better way. The mammogram image should detect it the FIRST TIME.
As someone healthy, who has no history of cancer in my family, I’m interested in two things in this world. STAYING healthy. As my doctors say, I must be doing something right. Preventing illness. Detecting illness early. Treating it best. If journalists aren’t telling you the whole story about HEALTH –that’s harmful.
Mervin Block, one of my writing mentors wrote an article called, “Health News That’s Not Healthy.” It was in the ’90’s. I commented on it. Then, I wrote about it and it got picked up by nationally by Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. They just recently took the article down to not “offend physicians.” It was about the conflict of interests that exists when physicians report health news.
I’m not anti physician correspondents. I love them. I’m anti- Anchor NOT asking the right questions or doing enough homework to know when vital information is being left out.
It’s one of the reasons I launched this blog. There isn’t enough time to tell the whole story. I now know there is enough time. Producers and on-air correspondents waste valuable air time on fluff, so there’s no excuse not to get important health stories out.
I recently watched a health story that said a pharmaceutical company was giving people a full refund if a new FDA-approved cancer treatment didn’t work. It’s the controversial one costing six figures and up. Story ended there. I knew the pharmaceutical company offered a refund if the cancer treatment was rejected in 30-days. That’s a big difference.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re a hospital or radiologist wanting to learn more as it’s the provider that needs to know about the latest tools in order to get it to patients.
Self-care is one of your most important tools. I’ve believe in healthy habits since I was a little kid. Science is slowly catching up. Lol. Exercise daily. Eat clean. Avoid sugar, red meats, soda, soft drinks, smoking, alcohol, get fresh air and sunshine, 9 hours of sleep, meditate. Daily exercise (even walking daily), laughing, socializing with positive people, being mindful –all release powerful healing endorphins. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and maintain healthy lifestyles themselves. It’s contagious.