Thousands of women are diagnosed with chest cancer each year. For women, only lung cancer has a higher death rate than chest cancer. While this type of cancer can be deadly, there are warning signs that can help you catch it early.
It isn’t exactly known why chest cancer develops, but there are somefactors that seem to increase your chances of developing chest cancer. Your age (and gender) increase your risk; While men can be diagnosed with chest cancer, it is one hundred times mores common in women. The highest rate of invasive chest cancer are found in women 55 and older.
There also seems to be a higher risk if your close blood relatives had or have chest cancer. Also, the risk of chest cancer increases with higher amounts of alcohol use and obesity after menopause.
Knowing the risks and the symptoms of chest cancer can significantly increase your chances of catching the illness early. Luckily, there are some things you can look for. While finding a lump in your chest is a common symptom, there are others signs to look for.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:
1. chest sizes
If the size of one chest enlarges significantly in a short amount of time, this could be a warning sign of chest cancer. Breasts are normally different sizes, but noticing a drastic increase in size or an abnormal change in shape could be something to be concerned about.
Even if there is no lump present, swelling on your chest (even in a small area) is not a good sign. Swelling can also accompany fever-like symptoms; if this is the case, your breasts will feel warm, may become inflamed, become red or purple and will swell. Immediately inform your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
3. Abnormal nipples
Other than chest milk, any other discharge is not normal. Decreased nipple sensitivity is also something to be aware of. Additionally, if your nipple retracts (pulls inward,) or is discolored, be sure to call your doctor.
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4. Redness or itchiness
Having a bumpy “orange peel” texture on your chest or nipple area could very well be a symptom of chest cancer. If you experience severe itching on your chest and dermatologist visits (and creams) don’t soothe your symptoms, call your doctor.
5. Noticing a lump
There are benign lumps that form in the chest that may not be cancerous. However, if you notice a mass (that you haven’t noticed before, or that feels harder than the surrounding lumps) schedule a chest examination. Be sure to notice any sort of abnormal mass near your armpit; though it is not in your chest, it could still be chest cancer.
6. chest Pain
This can be caused by a variety of other things that aren’t cancer. Fluctuating hormones, some fertility treatments, stress and wearing a bra that doesn’t fit right can all cause chest pain. If your pain isn’t caused by this list or accompanies other symptoms, contact your doctor.
Some women feel pain in their back or chest instead of their chest. If this pain does not go away with physical therapy or stretching, inform your doctor.
Not all of these symptoms are symptoms of chest cancer. If you get other treatments (like a cream or antibiotic) for these symptoms, but you do not notice a difference within a few days, be sure to call your doctor and be assertive about tests for chest cancer.
Mammograms have significantly increased the detection rate for chest cancer. Regularly schedule these appointments if you are above the age of 40, or if you have a family history of chest cancer. However, there are things a mammogram cannot detect. Having dense breasts make cancer harder to detect even with a mammogram and helps the cancer cells spread more rapidly. Talk to your doctor for additional tests if you fit this description.
Be diligent with your own chest examinations and be aware of what chest cancer symptoms look and feel like. If you are at all concerned, make an appointment with your doctor.