Breast cancer: Warning signs, risk factors every woman should know
Breast cancer occurs most frequently in women, although it can also affect men.
New Delhi: Not all women will develop the same signs and symptoms of breast cancer. That's because everyone's breasts are different, and your breasts can change with age and at different times of the month.
However, there are some obvious signs that are common among the sufferers of the disease such as changes in breast structure or nipple, appearance of lumps etc.
Breast cancer occurs most frequently in women, although it can also affect men. Hence, the cases are seen much less frequently in men.
In India, breast cancer is now the most common cancer as well as the top cancer killer among women, with the country witnessing a steep rise in the incidence of the disease, including the younger age groups.
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, making it the most common cancer among women, aside from skin cancer.
So, do not solely rely on routine tests alone to protect yourself from cancer, particularly breast cancer. Listen to your body and notice anything that is different, odd and unusual. Here are some signs and symptoms of breast cancer to watch out for:
- A lump either in the breast, upper chest or armpit
- Pain or tenderness in the armpit
- Persistent breast pain or tenderness that is unrelated to menstrual cycle
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast
- Any change in colour – breast may look red or inflamed
- Changes in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast
- Nipple discharge
- Inverted nipple – a nipple that suddenly starts to point inward
- Breast rashes
Apart from understanding breast cancer signs and symptoms, it is important to learn about risk factors to prevent or reduce your chances of developing the disease. Risk factors include –
- Getting older
- Gender - Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men
- Early menstrual period
- Late or no pregnancy
- Family and personal history of breast cancer
- Early menopause
- Not being physically active
- Poor diet - a diet high in saturated fat and lacking fruits and vegetables
- Being overweight
- Alcohol consumption
- Having dense breast
- Taking oral contraceptives
Other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals may lead to cancer. Research also suggests that night shifts can increase breast cancer risk.