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Breast cancer is a malignant tumour that develops in the breast as a result of genetic alterations in a set of breast cancer cells, which begin to divide uncontrollably.
The signs and symptoms of cancer vary and some women who have cancer may not show any signs and symptoms. Either way, it is recommended that women know their breasts, and know to be able to recognize changes and alert the physician.
The best time of the month for a woman who still menstruates, assess their own breasts to look for changes is a few days after menstruation, when breasts are less engorged (swollen). In women who are already in menopause, this self-examination can be done at any time of the month.
Changes should be reported to your doctor, even if they have appeared shortly after a mammogram or clinical breast exam done by a health professional.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of breast lumps are not malignant and do not point towards cancer, but only a thorough medical examination is able to show the right picture.
· Single lump hardened.
· Bulging of a portion of the breast.
· Swelling (edema) of the skin.
· Redness (erythema) on the skin.
· Nipple inversion.
· Nipples become more sensitive.
· Sense of mass or lump in one breast.
· Changes in the size and shape of the breasts, making them asymmetrical.
· Increased feeling of lump in the armpit.
· Thickening or retraction of the skin or nipple.
· Bloody or serous discharge from the nipples.
· Swelling of the arm.
It is worth remembering that in most cases, redness, swelling of the skin and even swollen lymph nodes in the armpit represent inflammation or infection (mastitis, for example), especially if accompanied by pain.
But since there is a rare form of breast inflammation that manifests as cancer, these findings should be reported to the doctor the same way, and the woman must undergo a mandatory clinical examination.
It is important to stress that not all breast lump is a breast cancer. About 4 out of 5 cases of breast lumps that are diagnosed are benign. However, it is always important that a doctor make the correct diagnosis.
If you have any signs or symptoms described above, the person you should immediately seek is your Gynaecologist or Mastologist.
If a woman keeps herself familiar with her appearance, feelings, shapes, textures and consistency of her own breasts, she can quickly detect any changes. It is essential that the diagnosis of breast cancer is made as early as possible, thus increasing the chances of cure, favouring the prognosis, recovery and rehabilitation.
It is important to remember that often, in early cases, the symptoms are not present, so it is essential to undergo physical examination performed by the doctor, breast ultrasound and mammography on an annual basis, considering the age and other individual factors.
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