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Thickening or Lumps in the Body: A Sign of Breast Cancer?

Thickening or Lumps in the Body: A Sign of Breast Cancer?

Feeling a thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere can be an alarming experience. After all, an unexplained lump in the breast has been noted as a possible sign of breast cancer.

But does having a thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere automatically mean you have cancer? Or could it be a sign of another, less serious condition?

What does a thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere mean?

A lot of women are aware that they need to check regularly for any thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere. Breast awareness can lead to early detection and treatment of cancer.

However, this also has the unintended consequence of making some people feel paranoid, or too worried about lumps or changes in their body.

While it is true that having a lump in the breast is a cause for concern, this doesn’t mean that it’s automatically cancer.

Lumps or tumors can either be benign or malignant, the former means that they are harmless, while the latter is the one that people need to worry about.

In fact, more often than not, lumps or growths in the body are usually benign. However, it is still important to get checked since the only way to test if it is malignant or not is through a biopsy.

Breast cancer can have different symptoms

Another thing for women to remember is that breast lumps are not the only sign of breast cancer.

In fact, it is possible that a woman can have breast cancer without experiencing any signs or symptoms. The symptoms of cancer can vary from person to person, which means that women need to get regular screening to make sure that they are cancer-free.

Here are some other possible symptoms of breast cancer:

  • Tenderness or pain near the nipples, or the breast
  • Swelling in the armpits
  • A clear or bloody discharge coming from the nipple
  • Change in the shape, size, or color of the nipple
  • A sudden change in the shape of the breast

It is possible for women to experience these symptoms first before feeling any thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere.

This is why it is important to not ignore any peculiar changes that are happening in your body.

When should you worry?

One thing that is on a lot of people’s minds is when they should start to worry about cancer symptoms.

After all, it is pretty easy to get spooked or get anxious if you notice a sudden change in your body. Additionally, the internet has made it easier for people to check their symptoms and self-diagnose. With so many overlapping symptoms between diseases, someone with a simple cold may come to believe they have cancer.

Remember, if you notice anything different in your body, especially if it’s a thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere, talk to your doctor about it.

Your condition may or may not be cancer, so there’s no use worrying too much about it early on. But it’s still best not to ignore any symptoms you are experiencing.

Get screened for cancer regularly

One thing to know about cancer is that early detection is crucial. So getting checked as soon as possible is best.

In addition, women who are 50 years old, or women who have a history of breast cancer in the family should get regular screening. Getting a mammogram every 2 years can help detect and treat cancer before it gets worse.

Cancer screening is important because it checks for symptoms that most people might not notice.

For example, a mammogram can give doctors an inside view of the breasts. This lets them see if there are any unusual growths or lumps that might be a cause for concern.

In some cases, a mammogram might not be enough to show if a lump is benign or malignant because they can look similar.

In these situations, a biopsy might be required to check if it is cancerous or not.

Without getting regular screening, these symptoms can go undetected until the cancer has grown larger or has spread.

CAUTION: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

What steps can you take to lower your risk of breast cancer?

Here are some steps that women can take in order to lower their risk of breast cancer:

  • Be sure to get screened regularly, especially if you have a relative with breast cancer.
  • Do a breast self-check to check for any lumps in your breasts.
  • Try to limit your alcohol intake.
  • If you are a smoker, it would be best to quit as soon as possible.
  • Engage in exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Menopausal hormone therapy might increase your risk for breast cancer, so talk to your physician regarding this risk if you need to undergo such a treatment
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight as this can lower your risk of cancer.
  • Certain medications, such as estrogen blockers can help lower your risk of breast cancer.
  • In some cases, preventive surgery can help prevent cancer, especially for women with family history or genetic predisposition.

When it comes to the possibility of cancer, the important thing to remember is to try to stay calm, and get in touch with your doctor if you notice anything unusual.

With the advancements in modern medicine these days, breast cancer survival rates are pretty high.

However, this would only be possible with early detection and treatment.

Learn more about breast cancer here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Breast Cancer – Diagnosis, Evaluation and Treatment, https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=breast-cancer, Accessed August 24 2020

Different Kinds of Breast Lumps | Stony Brook Cancer Center, https://cancer.stonybrookmedicine.edu/breast-cancer-team/patients/bse/breastlumps, Accessed August 24 2020

Breast cancer – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352470, Accessed August 24 2020

What Is Breast Cancer? | Breast Cancer Definition, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/what-is-breast-cancer.html, Accessed August 24 2020

What Is Breast Cancer? | CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/what-is-breast-cancer.htm, Accessed August 24 2020

Breast lump: Early evaluation is essential – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/breast-lump/art-20044839, Accessed August 24 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 05
Medically reviewed by John Paul Ferolino Abrina, M.D.
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