What are the 12 signs of breast cancer?

The Worldwide Breast Cancer campaign aims to help women identify new changes in breast nipple shape, size, texture and discharge, and encourages all women to periodically self-examine their breasts. At the center of this campaign is a box of lemons, cleverly modified to represent 12 signs that all women should know. Certain changes in the breast may be early signs of breast cancer. Knowing what these changes look and feel like can help people access the right treatment as soon as possible.

Women usually first detect breast cancer on their own, either by self-examination (25%) or by accident (18%). Mammograms can detect breast cancer early, often before it can be felt and possibly before it has spread. Knowing any personal or family history of breast cancer and talking about it with a doctor can help a person know what to consider. Breast lumps, dimples and nipple retraction are some of the signs represented in the campaign, which will then highlight what you should feel during the breast exam, what you should do if you are concerned about something you find and the importance of getting regular mammograms.

You may be diagnosed with a benign breast lump, but “don't worry,” says breast surgeon, Mr. Simon Marsh, “Benign lumps are not cancerous and can usually be left alone safely. A monthly breast self-exam can help identify irregularities and detect cancer in its early stages. This procedure takes images from different angles around the breast and converts them into a three-dimensional image.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass (although most breast lumps are not cancerous). Knowing the 12 signs and symptoms of breast cancer can help patients have more confidence to report a persistent and unusual breast change early. To ensure an early diagnosis, it is important to recognize any changes in the breast and to ask your doctor any questions. 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.

Only two out of five (42%) are confident in recognizing changes in the breasts that could be a sign of cancer and 25% think that a lump is the only sign of breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the few types of cancer for which there is an effective screening test, mammography. Lump formation can vary widely and doesn't always indicate cancer, especially if it feels the same in both breasts. It's helpful for people to be aware of how their breasts feel so they can get used to the regular changes that occur.

Tonya Sharrai
Tonya Sharrai

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