The Trials and Tribulations of Breast Cancer
Cancers affecting the breast tissue are terrifying and disappointingly prevalent. 1 in 8 or around 13% of women will deal with this sort of cancer at some point in their lives. While it is true that genetics and your personal lifestyle play a large role in your diagnosis, these by no means are the only factors that decide whether or not you will get this cancer. It is recommended that all women be on the lookout for some of the more telling symptoms of this disease.
- Is There a Hard Mass or Lump?
Many doctors recommend that a woman take a minute or two to perform a self-exam in the shower or any time that she is undressed. Feel with your fingertips to see if there is new and unfamiliar growth in your armpits or on your breasts. While some lumps can be associated with an easily-treated lymph node disorder, it is still prudent to have all of them inspected by a professional.
A doctor or oncologist can tell you if they are cancerous or if they are nothing to worry about. They have experience in the field of breast cancer and can handle all issues you have with sensitivity and discretion.
- Is There Unexplained Discharge?
Be on the lookout for anything leaking from your nipples. If it is milk and you are pregnant or breastfeeding, that is normal. However, if it is blood or if it has an unpleasant odour, you want to get it checked out.
Many times, discharge from your nipples can be a sign of a minor health issue, but if there is blood, you want to get it seen to immediately. Normal discharge is clear or white/yellow. If it is brown or red, that is considered ‘abnormal’ and is cause for concern.
- Are Your Breasts Tender or Painful?
While many women experience breast tenderness around their menstruation period, a tenderness that persists for a long time is a sign that there are other issues to contend with. If the tenderness turns to pain and it is localised around the nipple area, that is an even bigger red flag.
Similarly, if you develop a rash or patch of irritated skin on your breasts, you want to mention it to a doctor. While topical itch-relief cream can help alleviate the symptoms, they will not fix the root cause.
- Did You Notice the Signs in Time?
If you catch it early enough & begin treatment promptly, your chances of surviving this cancer are much higher than those who did not. It is still considered invasive cancer, no matter how early it is detected. However, if it is early enough, it has not yet metastasised.
The first stages of this cancer, known as I and II, are still localised in the breast tissue and surrounding areas, such as the underarms. In the United States, the majority of these cancers are caught early enough to be successfully treated.
- How Late is Too Late?
If your cancer has progressed to the later stages (III and IV), it is ‘metastatic‘. This means that it can spread to other parts of the body, and it is impossible to cure it. However, not all is lost. The symptoms and progression of this disease can be managed. With a strong support network and a professional team of doctors, this disease does not have to ruin your life.
The timeline for how long you have between diagnosis and end-of-life events can vary widely from person to person, but with some help and the best treatment available you can have as much time as you need.