An external badge of womanhood, breasts symbolize femininity, nurturance and love. They have been written about for centuries by poets and authors, painted and photographed, and revered in films and music for decades. And yet, they also can bring devastating news to thousands of women every year when they hear the words, “You have breast cancer.”
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Great strides have been made in diagnosis and treatment in the past two decades. With the adoption of screening mammography and increased public awareness, many women now find breast cancer in its earliest stages, often before it becomes invasive. Early breast cancer usually does not cause pain. In fact, when breast cancer first develops, there may be no symptoms at all. But as the cancer grows, it can cause changes that women should watch for:
- A solid or irregular lump in the breast
- Any changes in texture of the skin or breast tissue
- Changes in the size of the breast
- Dimpling of skin around the breast
- Painless thickening in the breast
- Nipple retraction or deviation
- Asymmetry of the breast (not proportional)
- Scaling of skin on nipple or areola
- Thickened skin or prominent pores with swelling and redness of the breast
- Bloody or abnormal discharge from nipple
- Ulceration of the breast
See your physician immediately if you have any of these symptoms. Most often, they are not cancer, but it is important to check with your physician so any problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
If diagnosed with breast cancer, women have numerous options for the surgical management of breast cancer – from breast-conserving surgery to skin- and occasionally nipple-sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.
UofL Physicians – Surgical Oncology is dedicated to helping our patients make informed decisions. We understand that there can be tremendous confusion and anxiety among newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. With multiple treatment options available, it can be difficult to navigate through a confusing maze of specialists and advice. Working with experts in medical and radiation oncology at the Brown Cancer Center, we focus on the needs of each patient and simplify the process.
If you haven’t talked to your doctor about your breast health, use this awareness month as a reminder to schedule an appointment. And it wouldn’t hurt to remind others to do the same.