It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and given the fact that over 200,000 American women will be diagnosed with this disease this year alone and nearly 40,000 will die from it, we can’t talk about it enough–especially when it comes to prevention and awareness. Sure, we all know that lumps in the breast or armpit can be a major warning sign, but how much do you know about the other symptoms of breast cancer? There are several that can easily be dismissed or confused with something else going on in our bodies. So, for today, get familiar with the other warning signs–some of them may surprise you. And please don’t ignore any of these:
1. Warm Or Red Breasts
Skin that feels warm, is red, swollen or resembles an orange peel can indicate inflammation of the breasts, a rare form of breast cancer that accounts for 5% of all cases. Of course, swollen breasts can also indicate your period is about to happen, but check with your doctor if they don’t disappear when your cycle is over.
2. Nipple Discharge
While it may be scary, discharge can be your body’s natural reaction when the nipple is squeezed, or it can indicate an infection. But it can also be a warning sign for breast cancer, especially if it occurs without squeezing the nipple, is only in one breast or has a bloody or clear (not milky) consistency.
3. Nipple Changes
Changes in the nipple’s appearance can be an indicator of breast cancer. One nipple may stick up more or less than it used to, or become inverted or flattened. The skin of the nipple may also become crusty, scaly or inflamed. Become familiar with the way your nipples look and report any changes to your doctor.
4. Change In Size
With breast cancer, one breast may change in shape or size. It may appear bigger, or more oval or sag more than the other. You may notice this when looking in the mirror, when in the shower or when wearing a bra if one side feels tighter than the other.
5. Back Pain
According to MSN, some women experience back pain before any other sign of breast cancer. “Most breast tumors develop in the glandular tissue of the breast, which extends deep into the chest, close to the chest wall,” MSN writes. “If tumor growth pushes backward toward the ribs and spine, the resulting pain may be felt in the back rather than in the breast. Breast cancer also tends to metastasize or spread to the spine or ribs, becoming secondary bone cancer.”
6. Fatigue Or Changes In Appetite
Fatigue and loss of appetite can be symptoms of later stage breast cancer, according to what Marissa Weiss M.D., president of breastcancer.org told AOL Health. Of course, being tired can be related to a number of factors, but if your fatigue is unusual, contact your doctor.
Finally, one of the biggest symptoms of breast cancer can be your own intuition. If you sense that something is not right with your breasts, even if you don’t spot a lump or any of these other warning signs, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor. We can never be too cautious when it comes to breast cancer.