FROM OUR EXPERTS
You’ve found a lump in your breast. Or there’s swelling in your armpit. Perhaps your nipples are itchy, you’ve got a stubborn rash, or your breasts are sore and painful. Could this be cancer? Luckily, the answer to that scary question is, “Probably not.” The vast majority of breast issues don’t involve cancer. From normal changes involved with your monthly cycle, to harmless (though potentially painful) cysts, to simple infections and skin rashes, changes you notice in your breasts can be irritating and painful, but rarely are they cancer symptoms. Still, the #1 rule for maintaining breast health is this: notice any changes, track them, and decide whether you need to see a doctor right away, or can wait and see if they resolve themselves. The following posts will help you identify what your particular symptom or symptoms might mean; and help you determine whether to see a doctor right away, or whether it’s OK to wait awhile and see if the issue re...
One study found that male breast cancer is on the rise, with a 25% increase over the 25 years from 1973 to 1988. But it's still rare. It's unclear whether the reported rise means the disease is slowly becoming more common, or whether men better understand the symptoms and report their symptoms, leading to diagnoses that might have been missed in the past.
If you notice any persistent changes to your breasts, you should contact your doctor. Here are some signs to watch for:
a lump felt in the breast
an inverted nipple
nipple discharge (clear or bloody)
sores on the nipple and areola (the small ring of color around the center of the nipple)
enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
It's important to note that enlargement of both breasts (not just on one side) is usually NOT cancer. The medical term for this is gynecomastia. Sometimes the breasts can become quite large. Non-cancer-related enlargement of the breasts can be caused by medications, heavy alcohol use, weight gain, or m...
A reader wrote in concerned that she might have inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Although she had three of the symptoms of IBC--redness, swelling, and warmth--her doctors were confident that she couldn't have IBC. She did not have the characteristic skin dimpling of IBC, and only part of her breast was affected. Yet five antibiotics had not diminished her symptoms. Finally they decided to biopsy.
The results were astonishing! Her doctors were right. She did not have IBC. She had an internal malignancy that had escaped detection from earlier imaging tests. Cancer deep in the breast does not typically show itself with infection-like symptoms on the surface of the breast, but it did in her case. Her body clearly had not read the textbook!
A friend of ours was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in her knee that usually appears in the spinal cord. Her diagnosis was delayed because her body hadn't read the textbook.
This kind of...
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