The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass (although most breast lumps are not cancerous). A hard, painless mass with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can also be soft, round, tender, or even painful. If you suspect that you might have breast cancer. How do you find out? Doctors use physical exams, mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs, and needle biopsies to determine if there is cancer.
If that's the case, you and your doctor will need to discuss treatment options. During a biopsy, the doctor removes a small amount of breast tissue for evaluation in a medical laboratory. Mastectomy and surgery to replace a breast (reconstruction) can cause scar tissue or fat cells to build up. Doctors usually detect it during a breast biopsy when they are investigating a breast lump or other problem.
Having a history of breast cancer also increases your risk, including your own personal history, if you've had it before, and your family history. Researchers have identified hormonal, environmental and lifestyle factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer. Breasts can change in size during the menstrual cycle, flat or inverted nipples are common throughout life, and milk leakage is very normal during pregnancy or shortly after having a baby. Soon you'll receive the first email about breast cancer in your inbox, which will include information about treatment, diagnosis, surgery and how Mayo Clinic oncology teams approach personalized care.
Breast cancer survival rates have increased and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new personalized approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease. The first thing to know about early signs of breast cancer is that they can vary from person to person, so something that might indicate breast cancer in one person may not be breast cancer in another. In addition, some people don't have any signs of breast cancer when the condition is in its early stages. As with other types of cancer, breast cancer responds best to treatment when diagnosed in its early stages.
Women can choose to familiarize themselves with their breasts by inspecting them from time to time during a breast self-exam to check if they are aware of their breasts. Eczema can cause changes in breast skin texture, for example, and many diseases can cause swollen lymph nodes. Doctors estimate that 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are related to genetic mutations transmitted from generation to generation to family. If the disease has spread beyond the breasts and lymph nodes, surgery is usually not recommended and the main treatment is medical therapy.
Knowing your breasts can't prevent breast cancer, but it can help you better understand the normal changes that breasts undergo and identify any unusual signs and symptoms.