Breast Problems and Cancer

October 01, 2008

It is quite important to pay attention to changes in your breasts.

Breast cancer is the second common type of cancer which kill women in our contemporary world. Women in the United States occupy the top position as they succumb to breast cancer in thousands every year. Though less common than females, men also fall prey to this cancer.

Women have trouble in differentiating unusual discomforts in their breasts from the usual ones. It is natural for women to have achy, heavy or sore breasts around their menstrual date due to some hormonal changes. Lumps in the breasts of women are also common as they pass their 30′s. Most of them are benign and hence not detrimental to health. I had a friend who had to undergo immediate surgery for a growing breast lump. She told me that in the beginning she thought it to be harmless and normal. But as days passed by, it began to grow in size and was extremely painful. She found it difficult to bend or change positions due to the pain and size of the lump. She admitted her foolishness in not consulting a doctor earlier and at having to spend around twelve thousand rupees for something that could have been handled for less than 5k.

Breast Lumps

Breasts seem to be lumpy a day or two before menstruation. Many women between the ages of 30 and 50 find harmless little lumps around their breasts. These lumps disappear with menopause. Breastfeeding women also feel their breasts to be lumpy. Additionally, women who take hormones may also find lumps in their breasts. Sometimes it can be genetic as well.

Cysts, Fibroadenomas and Pseudolumps are types of lumps which are benign. Cysts appear in women who are nearing menopause, whereas Fibroadenomas are found in teens and younger women. Pseudolump may occur to those who have previously had breast surgery or enhancement.

Breast Pain

Most breast pains do not indicate the risk of cancer unless they are accompanied by a mass or lump. Breast pain is just a sign of normal hormone changes which go away by the end of the period. External factors like stress or the use of certain drugs can worsen your breast pain.

Some women with breast pain may suffer from Cyclic mastalgia. This kind of pain gets worse by the menstrual cycle and usually is relieved at the time your period begins. According to health experts, Cyclic mastalgia has a possible relationship with the risk of breast cancer. Noncyclic mastalgiaas the name suggests, is not associated with the menstrual cycle. It typically occurs middle aged women of above 40 years and is sometimes related to a fibrous mass in the breasts.

How to deal with breast pain related to menstruation.

  • A supportive bra helps most women during their physical tasks.
  • Take less caffeine
  • Cut down on too much of salty foods before your periods
  • Magnesium intake helps some. Consult your doctor on the possibilities and proportions.

During puberty, boys also suffer from breast pain ( gynecomasta) due to the natural growth of their breasts. For most of the males, their problem begins and end there.

Alarms

  • Your breast pain needs medical attention if it is not elated to your periods or not due to any possible injury.
  • If it is intense and sharp and a burning pain.
  • If it radiates from your breast to your underarms and is on one side only
  • Any on and off pain occurring in a single spot should be attended to.

Breast Infections

Mastitis or breast infection suggests the infection of the breast tissue that occurs to breast feeding women. The breasts can be frequently infected as the bacteria ( Staphylococcus aureus)from the baby’s mouth enters the milk duct through a crack in the nipple. Infected beasts swell turning red with pain. They are commonly found in mothers with babies of 3 months or younger.

Though it has no direct link with breast cancer some do relate to a rare form of cancer called inflammatory carcinoma. It is aggressive and invasive as it spreads quickly to the lymphatic system. You cannot delay on this type of cancer as it difficult to diagnose and detect.

Breast Cancer

Cancer Alarms

  • Sudden swelling and reddening of breasts.
  • Itchiness and increase in the temperature around the breasts
  • Dimpled skin
  • Nipple retraction or discharge.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the underarm or above the collarbone.
  • If you are a man you find a lump in your chest.
  • Change of shape of your breast.
  • A breast lump found after menopause.
  • Any new pain in the breasts that does not go away.

Prevention and Care:

  1. Self examinations!
  2. Be aware that you are at a higher risk after the age of 50.
  3. If you have cancer running in your family run a mammogram before your 40.
  4. After 50, run a mammogram every 2 years.
  5. Eat a low-fat diet to reduce any possible risks.
  6. Limit alcoholic beverages.

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- Aparna K V

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