Breast cancer has become a global problem. In recent years, it’s become the most common cancer among women worldwide. As you’ll see below, judging by the numbers, breast cancer is a dangerous threat we can’t ignore any more. Hundreds of thousands of women are affected every year. Breast cancer is usually noticeable by a lump in the breasts. At that point, you can be sure that something bad is happening there. But if you notice the early symptoms, you have a much better chance of stopping the cancer.
One of the biggest problems with breast cancer is late detection. Many organizations advocate for early detection and diagnosis by trying to raise awareness. That being said, we will list some of the early breast cancer signs, along with some of the later signs. If you have any of the signs, do not ignore them. Instead, schedule a visit to the doctor.
Breast cancer numbers
To give you an idea of how common breast cancer is, here are some of the numbers. Yes, they sound terrifying.
- One in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer once in her life.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
- According to estimates, 246,660 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Of them, more than 40,000 lose their life.
- It’s rare, but men are diagnosed with breast cancer as well. The numbers show more than 2,600 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Of them, more than 400 lose their life.
- Every 13 minutes, a woman dies due to breast cancer.
- Every 2 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Currently, there are almost 3 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.
In order to be one of the survivors, you need to look for the early signs of breast cancer. Here are some of them:
- New moles or strange changes in existing moles.
- As soon as you notice a new mole, visit a doctor. According to research, women with moles have a 13% increased risk of breast cancer. So women with moles should be more careful, and they should schedule regular tests and visits to the doctor’s office just so they can detect breast cancer early.
- If you have moles all over your body, the moment you notice one of your moles is changing, visit the doctor.
Aches and pains in the breast area
As I mentioned at the beginning, a lump in the breast could be a sign of breast cancer. But before the lump develops, you’ll notice unexplainable pain and aches in the breast area. The moment you feel unusual aches, along with occasional throbbing and discomfort, visit your doctor.
One of the common mistakes women make is they think of this pain as isolated and localized. But breast cancer is not always a full lump; sometimes, there’s no lump at all. Sometimes, there might be just half a lump. Sometimes, it can be just strange-looking skin appearance, accompanied by pain in the chest area. That being said, look for more than one symptom. If they manifest at the same time, it might be a good time to consult your physician.
Hoarse throat and annoying cough
Breast cancer is not an isolated type of cancer. In most cases, breast cancer spreads to the uterus, but it can also spread to the lungs. In the latter case, the result is persistent coughing and a hoarse throat.
And no, that is not your regular cold/flu cough. You’ll notice the difference, as the coughing never stops. Some statistics show that in more than half of the cases, breast cancer spreads to the lungs. The result is shortness of breath, dry cough, and hoarse throat.
Unexplained fatigue and tiredness
Fatigue and tiredness can be symptoms for so many diseases. For example, fatigue is also a symptom of magnesium deficiency. However, if you haven’t done anything to trigger the tiredness and fatigue, it might be time to think about cancer. Yes, you can be fatigued by physical exercises, but if you feel tired without having done any physical exercise, you may have breast cancer.
Why do you feel tired when you have cancer? Cancer causes chemical imbalances in your body. As a result, your body doesn’t have all the chemicals, minerals, and vitamins it needs for proper functioning. On its own, it’s not enough to check with the doctor. However, if you notice it along with other symptoms, check with a physician. Sometimes, breast cancer patients feel tired to the point they can’t get up from bed.
Your nipples are one of the best indicators of breast cancer. As with a lump, a change in appearance of the nipples is a very visual early sign of breast cancer. Here are some symptoms you might experience:
- Pulling in of your nipple
- Itchy, sore, and scaly nipple
- Rash on your nipples
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
Irregular bladder movement
Irregular bowel movement occurs as a result of hormonal and chemical imbalance. Women with breast cancer experience a change in their hormones, and as a result, their urethra dries out and they experience urinary incontinence.
Some of the symptoms that appear due to irregular bladder and bowel movement include leaking of urine while sneezing, coughing or laughing. And women with breast cancer feel the urge to urinate often and frequently. In addition, their urination takes longer.
You’re probably wondering how back pain can be an early sign of breast cancer. It’s simple: it has to do with the mechanics of the body. When breast tumors are developing, they put pressure on the ribs and the spine. As a result, you experience upper back pain. But we have differentiate between back pain from herniated disc and spondylitis and breast cancer. For the latter, the pain feels like it comes from deep within the bones.
So you need to be aware of any changes in your upper back, neck, and spinal column. If you notice unexplainable pain in the upper back, it’s time to visit a physician.
With upper back pain, we conclude the early signs of breast cancer. I would also like to share some of the later breast cancer symptoms with you, and explain the difference between cancer types.
Later symptoms of breast cancer
If you ignore the early signs of breast cancer, your cancer will progress and spread. As a result, you’ll experience more severe symptoms and signs, such as:
- Visible veins on the breast
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Vaginal pain
- Orange peel texture on the skin
- Enlargement of one breast
- Dimpling of the breast surface
- Unintentional weight loss
Types of breast cancer
I must stress that not every breast cancer is deadly. There are two categories of breast cancer:
- Stage 0 breast cancer, or noninvasive cancer. This type of cancer has not spread from the original tissue.
- Stage 1, 2, 3, or 4 cancer, also called invasive cancer. This type of cancer has spread to the surrounding tissues.
Depending on the tissue that has been affected, there are three types of cancer:
- Sarcoma: cancer in the connective tissue of the breasts (very rare)
- Ductal carcinoma: cancer that forms in the lining of the milk ducts (the most common type of breast cancer)
- Lobular carcinoma: cancer in the lobules of the breasts (the area where milk is produced)
Men and breast cancer
Men are also potential breast cancer victims and survivors. While it is rare, it can still occur at any age, although it is more common as men age. One thing to note: men are usually diagnosed with cancer in the later stage of the disease, simply because they don’t regularly check their breasts.
Here are symptoms to watch out for:
- Lump in the breast tissue
- Nipple discharge
- Nipple that turns inward
- Thickening of the breast tissue
- Unexplained skin irritation, swelling, and redness on the breast