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What are the five signs of breast cancer?

By Miss Christina Choy, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon, at Chiswick Medical Centre, part of HCA Healthcare UK.

 

While most breast cancer campaigns advise you to check for lumps, there are other signs I ask my patients to look for. As malignancy forms in the tissue, it does not always develop into a mass and it can appear in different ways.

 

I understand some women find it an inconvenience to see a GP regarding breast cancer concerns as they dread the long wait for an appointment and results. This can cause some women to ignore breast cancer signs and symptoms. The new breast unit at Chiswick Medical Centre offers a self-referral service, so patients who qualify do not need to see a GP first.

 

At the breast unit patients are offered a one stop service for breast assessment, including diagnosis with state-of-the-art machinery and a multidisciplinary treatment approach of benign and malignant breast conditions. Women receive their imaging reports immediately and biopsy results as quick as the following day.

 

The majority of lumps we examine are benign, so as well as checking for lumps in both breast, armpit and around collar bone areas, women should be aware of other less common symptoms of breast cancer. Check out my five signs to look out for:

Is increase in breast size a sign of cancer?

Breasts can change in size, shape and texture due to many reasons such as menstruation and pregnancy. This should not be a cause for concern, and it is important for women to recognise what fluctuation is normal for them. However if one breast has grown asymmetrically to the other, or feels hard and heavy then this could be a sign of breast cancer.

What is the first sign of inflammatory breast cancer?

Inflammatory breast cancer is rare, but it is something women should be cautious of. If one breast feels warm to touch and is harder than the other or shows signs of infection, then you should immediately get it checked out by a consultant.

Nipple changes in breast cancer

  • Nipple retraction
    Nipple retraction, or inverted nipples, is when the nipple turns inward or has flattened. Nipple retraction can be a concern when it is sudden and unexplained
  • Nipple discharge
    If the nipple produces discharge, and especially if the discharge is a reddish colour, this could be a sign of breast cancer
  • Thickening skin
    If the skin around the nipple is scaly or has thickened, this could also be a sign of breast cancer and needs to be examined by an expert

Dilated breast veins

Keep an eye out for veins which were not on your breasts previously. If a vein has suddenly become dilated and protruding this could mean a cancer is blocking a blood vessel. If you are concerned about an unusual vein, it is best to have it checked.

Is dimpling of breast always cancer?

This can be caused by cancer producing contractions in the breast tissues between the skin and chest wall. This pulls the skin inward to create a dimpled or puckered effect. If breasts begin to show an orange-peel look or texture, then this could be a sign of breast cancer. I advise to visually check your breasts frequently to see if there is any change in texture.

Five hidden signs of breast cancer conclusion

If you are worried about any of the symptoms indicating breast cancer, see a consultant for expert medical advice.

 

For women over the age of 40, even when there are no symptoms or signs, a screening mammogram is available at the Chiswick Medical Centre’s new breast unit. 

To book an assessment at the Chiswick Medical Centre’s breast unit please contact the reservations team on 020 3733 9726.


For appointments and more information call 020 3553 9450.

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