According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 287,850 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer, and Black women often die due to breast cancer compared to White women. 

The good news is that many treatment options are available for patients, and the survival rate for those diagnosed with the disease is steadily increasing. With early detection and state-of-the-art treatment methods, more and more people are surviving breast cancer and leading long, healthy lives.

What Is Breast Cancer? 

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. The main types of this cancer are ductal carcinoma, lobular carcinoma, mixed tumor, and pleomorphic tumor. There are four main stages of breast cancer: Stage 0, Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III. 

Most cases of breast cancer are found in women over the age of 50. However, this type of cancer can occur in men and women of any age. The common symptoms of breast cancer include a lump in the breast, a change in the size or shape of the breast, nipple discharge, and unexplained pain in the breast or arm. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor as soon as possible for further evaluation. 

Early detection is key to the successful treatment of breast cancer. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. The type of treatment prescribed will depend on the stage and grade of the tumor, as well as the patient's age and overall health. 

Symptoms 

Early detection is key in breast cancer, and there are five common symptoms that women should be aware of. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with the healthcare experts of BCOM. 

  1. Change in the size or shape of the breast 

One of the most common symptoms of breast cancer is a change in the size or shape of the breast. This may be accompanied by a change in the skin's texture, such as dimpling or orange-peel appearance. The nipple may also become crusty, scaly, or inverted. 

In some cases, there may be a discharge from the nipple. You must see your doctor for further evaluation if you notice any of these changes. It is a very serious disease, but it can be successfully treated if it is caught early. Therefore, it is important to be aware of symptoms and to see your doctor for regular checkups.

  1. Change in the appearance of the skin 

A change in the appearance of the skin of the breast is one of the common signs of breast cancer. The skin may appear red, inflamed, or thickened. There may also be a rash or crusting of the skin. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to see your doctor for an evaluation. Early detection and treatment of breast cancer can greatly improve your chances for successful treatment.

  1. Nipple discharge 

Nipple discharge is a symptom of several conditions, including benign and malignant breast disorders. Although the vast majority of cases are due to benign conditions, such as fibrocystic changes or duct ectasia, nipple discharge should always be evaluated by a physician. 

Breast cancer is the most serious potential cause of nipple discharge, although it is important to note that nipple discharge is usually not the first symptom of this type of cancer. Other common symptoms, such as a mass or change in the appearance of the breast, are more likely to occur first. However, any woman who experiences nipple discharge, particularly if it is bloody or accompanies other symptoms, should consult a doctor for further evaluation.

  1. Lump or mass in the breast

Breast cancer is a condition that affects the cells of the breast. This type of cancer can occur in both men and women, but it is much more common in women. There are a number of symptoms that may be associated with this type of cancer, including a lump or mass in the breast. This symptom occurs when the cancerous cells form a mass that can be felt through the skin. In some cases, this lump may also be visible on a mammogram screening. If you notice any changes in your breasts, it is important to consult a doctor so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated appropriately. 

  1. Persistent pain

Persistent pain in the breast is one of the symptoms of this type of cancer. It is important to note that pain is not always associated with it, and there are many other potential causes of breast pain. However, if you are experiencing persistent pain in your breast that does not go away with over-the-counter medication, it is important to see a doctor for further evaluation.  

While breast cancer is not always the cause of persistent breast pain, it is important to rule out this possibility so that treatment can be started as soon as possible if necessary. Early detection and treatment for this type of cancer can improve the chances of a successful outcome, so if you are experiencing any symptoms that concern you, don't hesitate to see a doctor. 

Causes 

The exact cause of breast cancer is not yet known, several factors can increase your risk of developing the disease. These include age, family history, obesity, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity. Additionally, exposure to certain chemicals and radiation can also contribute to your risk. 

However, it is important to remember that even if you have one or more of these risk factors, it does not mean that you will develop breast cancer. In fact, most women who develop breast cancer do not have any known risk factors. This suggests that there may be other unidentified factors at play. While more research is needed to determine the precise causes of this type of cancer, understanding the possible risk factors is an important first step in prevention and early detection.

When Should You See A Doctor? 

Early detection is key when it comes to this type of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 45 get a mammogram every year. For women under the age of 45, the recommendation is to get a mammogram every other year. In addition, all women should be performing monthly self-breast exams. 

If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a lump, discharge, or change in size or shape, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. While most changes are not cancerous, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Seeing a doctor for cancer screenings can help catch the disease early when it is most treatable.

Get Breast Cancer Screenings at BCOM

Broward Community and Family Health Centers offer comprehensive breast cancer screenings for women of all ages. Our certified staff provides clinical breast exams, mammograms, and ultrasounds, as well as education and support to help you make informed choices about your health. We understand that breast cancer can be a sensitive topic, and we provide a safe, comfortable environment for you to get the care you need. Call us today at (954) 266-2999 to find out if you qualify to complete mammograms at little or no cost to you.