What are some signs of breast cancer or breast lumps? How do you do a "self-exam" for these things and what ages are you most likely to have it if your going it?
I'm 17... do Ihave to worry about having breast cancer or lumps yet?
The first symptom of breast cancer for many women is a lump in their breast. But 9 out of 10 breast lumps (90%) are benign. That means they are not cancers. Most benign breast lumps are
Areas of benign breast change, causing lumpiness that is more obvious just before a period, particularly in women over 35
Cysts - sacs of fluid in the breast tissue. These are quite common
Fibroadenoma - a collection of fibrous glandular tissue. These are more common in younger women
What to look out for
Changes that could be due to a breast cancer are
A lump or thickening in an area of the breast
A change in the size or shape of a breast
Dimpling of the skin
A change in the shape of your nipple, particularly if it turns in, sinks into the breast or becomes irregular in shape
A blood-stained discharge from the nipple
A rash on a nipple or surrounding area
A swelling or lump in your armpit
Like breast lumps, these signs don't necessarily mean cancer. Inverted nipples, blood stained nipple discharge or a rash can all be due to other medical conditions. But if any of these things happen to you, you should get it checked out. It may be nothing and seeing the GP will put your mind at rest. It may be a benign condition that can easily be treated. Or at the very worst, if you have a cancer you give yourself the best chance of successful treatment by going to the doctor early on.
There is a rare type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer which can have different symptoms. The whole breast can look red and inflamed and can be very sore. The breast may feel hard. The skin sometimes looks like orange peel because the pores stand out in the inflamed area.
Another rare type of breast cancer shows up as a rash on and around the nipple. It is called Paget's disease. The red, scaly rash can be itchy. It looks a bit like eczema and is sometimes mistaken for that at first.
If you spot a lump
See your doctor straight away. If you notice anything unusual about your breast, have it examined. Even though most breast lumps are benign, they need to be checked to rule out cancer. Our page on breast awareness shows how to learn what is normal for you.
Your doctor will examine you and if necessary, send you to a specialist breast clinic for further checks. At the clinic, they will be able to see on your mammogram or ultrasound if the lump is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid lump.
If it is a cyst, they may get rid of it by draining the fluid out through a fine needle. If it is a solid lump, they will stick a very fine needle into it and take a tissue sample to test for cancer cells.
Some women prefer to have benign lumps removed to relieve their worry. They may be concerned that they will confuse them with any other lumps they may get in the future. But if you and your doctor are confident that the lump is benign, you do not have to have it removed if you do not want to. Benign lumps don't turn into cancer.
If your lump is a cancer, the earlier you have breast cancer treatment, the better your chance of cure.
Pain doesn't usually mean cancer. Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender before a period. And some benign breast lumps are painful. Many women get pain in their breasts for a while, which goes after a time. There may be no obvious reason for the pain, even with lots of tests. Most breast pain is not caused by cancer, but some breast cancers do cause pain, so if you are worried, see your GP.
To perform a breast self-exam, follow the steps described below.
In the mirror:
Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Look at your breasts. Don't be alarmed if they do not look equal in size or shape. Most women's breasts aren't. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in size, shape or position, or any changes to the skin of the breasts. Look for any skin puckering, dimpling, sores or discoloration. Inspect your nipples and look for any sores, peeling or change in the direction of the nipples.
Next, place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can inspect the outer part of your breasts.
Then bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.
Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts' outer portions. Remember to inspect the border underneath your breasts. You may need to lift your breasts with your hand to see this area.
Check your nipples for discharge (fluid). Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.
In the shower
Now, it's time to feel for changes in the breast. It is helpful to have your hands slippery with soap and water. Check for any lumps or thickening in your underarm area. Place your left hand on your hip and reach with your right hand to feel in the left armpit. Repeat on the other side.
Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
With hands soapy, raise one arm behind your head to spread out the breast tissue. Use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to press gently into the breast. Follow an up-and-down pattern along the breast, moving from bra line to collarbone. Continue the pattern until you have covered the entire breast. Repeat on the other side.
Next, lie down and place a small pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head. Place your left hand on the upper portion of your right breast with fingers together and flat. Body lotion may help to make this part of the exam easier.
Think of your breast as a face on a clock. Start at 12 o'clock and move toward 1 o'clock in small circular motions. Continue around the entire circle until you reach 12 o'clock again. Keep your fingers flat and in constant contact with your breast. When the circle is complete, move in one inch toward the nipple and complete another circle around the clock. Continue in this pattern until you've felt the entire breast. Make sure to feel the upper outer areas that extend into your armpit.
Place your fingers flat and directly on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the nipple for any changes. Gently press your nipple inward. It should move easily.
I have a fibroadenoma at left breast and decided not to undergo operation.the lump seems getting bigger..sometimes, it backs to normal..Is there a tendency that this fibroadenoma will turned into breast cancer? This lump in my breast was discovered more than 2 years..what's the best thing to do? Is it ok not to undergo operation? I choose not to..Is it safe?
The one above me is 100% right... I don't think you have much of a worry about cancer and stuff at 17 though.