Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. So, no matter where you live or where you are understanding BC is very important.
Breast cancer in men is rare but it does happen, about 1 % of BC cases occur in men population. While most people are aware of BC, many forget or are scared to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages. Regular check-ups and control are highly recommended. The chances of survival are highest when BC is find at an early stage.
How does Breast Cancer starts?
This Cancer starts with one abnormal cell which is going to build a clump of sick cells, building thereafter a mass of tissue we call a malignant tumour or cancer.
Not all breast changes are cancer. There are other conditions and non-cancerous changes that can affect the breast. Some conditions can cause discomfort or pain which treatment may help. Others need no treatment. Some conditions mimic BC, in this case further tests are needed to make the diagnosis.
Breast pain is more common with benign, non-breast cancer conditions than with BC. However, the only way to know for sure is to consult your healthcare provider.
A regular mammography screening is usually recommended for women from the age of 40 years. Mammography can detect most BC at early stage before symptoms appear.
However not all BC are found through mammography. A regular auto palpation once a month is recommended. Women should know how to do a self-examination and learn to recognize the structures of the breast.
So, what are the warning symptoms of Breast Cancer?
The warning signs of BC are not the same for all women that is why women should be aware of any new symptoms or changes in the look or feel of the breast or the nipples.
Visit your healthcare provider if you notice a lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area. Swelling, warm redness or darkening of the breast. Change in the size or shape of the breast. Dimpling or puckering of the skin. Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast. Nipple discharge that starts suddenly. New pain in one spot that does not go away.
Follow-ups tests usually begin with less invasive ones like a diagnostic mammogram or breast ultrasound. A radiologist will look at the images and decide if the abnormal finding seems suspicious. If it doesn’t look like cancer, then further testing may not be needed. In some cases, you may have a repeat mammogram or your health care provider may request a breast ultrasound or breast MRI.
If the finding looks suspicious or likely to be breast cancer, the next step is a biopsy to remove some of the abnormal tissue and check it for cancer. A pathologist will look at the tissue under a microscope and prepare a report. If the findings are benign (not cancer), you simply return to your regular schedule of screening with clinical breast exams and mammograms.
BC diagnosis is not a death sentence. Bc can be treated, progress in treatment and early detection has led to improved survival for people of all ages and stages.