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5 early signs of breast cancer

Breast cancer screening

By Mr Massimiliano Cariati, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon at The Wellington Hospital Breast Unit.

 

Breast cancer is incredibly common and thanks to screening programmes early diagnosis has become more and more frequent and the chances of treatment and survival have significantly improved.

 

We know survival is directly linked to early diagnosis, but only women from the age of 47-50 onwards are invited for routine screening and, therefore, breast awareness and checking yourself regularly is particularly important - starting from a young age.

 

Less than one in 10 breast cancers are hereditary in origin. It is therefore essential everyone (women and men) check themselves regularly, especially those with a family history of the disease.

Breast self examination

Self examination consists of looking and feeling, and should be carried out at regular monthly intervals. If you are a woman and experience regular periods, a week after the end of your period is an ideal time to perform self examination.

We hear frequently, particularly for younger people, the reason why they do not self-examine is because they are not sure what to look for. Breast awareness and self examination are all about building confidence with regards to how your breasts normally look and feel. So if new changes occur, you can identify these early and seek a review from your doctor if necessary.

First signs of Breast Cancer

Besides identifying a breast lump, the following are some warning signs which should prompt you to seek the advice of your doctor:

 

  • nipple discharge, inversion or change of shape, particularly if only on one side. This can be a sign of breast cancer, particularly if associated with a lump or if the discharge is blood stained
  • constant or unusual pain in your breast or armpit. The majority of breast/armpit pain is entirely innocent but can occasionally be associated with cancer and ignoring it may lead to a delay in diagnosis
  • a rash or thickening or dimpling of the skin of your breast or the nipple. This can be the sign of a rare form of cancer of the nipple called Paget’s disease
  • a rapid change in size or shape accompanied by redness and orange peel skin. This can be the sign of an inflammatory breast cancer
  • a swelling in your armpit or above your collarbone. A persistent swelling in these areas should never be ignored.

 

Regular self-examinations allow you to be confident in identifying new or unusual changes, making it easier to seek your doctor’s advice early and in a timely fashion.


Book an appointment with Mr Massimiliano Cariati at The Wellington Hospital.

Contact our experienced cancer team

Any questions? We're happy to advise you or help you to book an appointment with a cancer specialist consultant.

Call us on 020 3553 9477
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