Understanding the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

by BTM

Sun, 04 October 2020

Dr. Sally Adnan Aljubouri   Understanding the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

October is known internationally as the month when women’s health takes center stage as the world focuses on raising awareness about breast cancer. This month, Bahrain Specialist Hospital’s Consultant of Laparoscopic and  General Surgery, Dr. Sally Adnan Aljubouri gives our readers some insight into the warning signs of breast cancer. 

“Breast cancer can have different symptoms for different people, while most don’t notice any signs at all,” says Dr. Sally, adding that no breast is typical and that they also tend to change as you age.

“What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by many factors like getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications,” she added.

Regular monthly-self-examinations, starting at a young age, are key to being familiar with how your breasts look and feel. “It is also important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer,” she said.

The symptoms of breast cancer, as explained by Dr. Sally, include:
A new lump or mass, which is the most common symptom. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, However, breast cancers can also be soft or round and can even be painful. For this reason, it's important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by an experienced healthcare professional.
Swelling of all or part of a breast or change in the shape, size or texture of the breast or nipple.
Nipple discharge, other than breast milk. Discharge can be your body's natural reaction when the nipple is squeezed. It could also be a sign of breast cancer, especially if it occurs without squeezing the nipple, occurs in only one breast with possibly bloody discharge. 

  • Skin dimpling or puckering - sometimes looking like an orange peel.
  • Nipple retraction which is indicated by the nipple turning inward.
  • Breast or nipple pain- Breast pain is rarely associated with breast cancer and is usually related to benign conditions like fibrocystic disease.
  • Nipple or breast skin that is itchy, red, dry, flaking or thickened.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes. Sometimes breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.

“Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional so it can be examined and the cause can be found,” she explains.
Remember that knowing what to look for and having repeated self-examinations alone, does not substitute having regular mammograms and other screening tests. “These tests can help find breast cancer early, before any symptoms appear. Finding breast cancer early gives you a better chance of successful treatment and recovery,” she concluded.