Abnormal cell growth in the breasts can becomes cancerous and can cause breast cancer. However, depending on which breast cells develop into cancer, there can be various types of breast cancer.
Breast cancer can originate in any of the breast’s three primary structures: the lobules, the ducts, or the connective tissue. The lobules of the lactation glands produce milk. Ducts are the channels through which milk is carried to the nipples. Connective tissue is the surrounding tissue that encases and supports the other tissues. It is composed of both fatty and fibrous connective tissue. Most breast cancers are found to have their roots in the ducts or the lobules of the affected breast. The term “metastasized” refers to the breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body via the blood and lymphatic arteries.[1, 2]
Signs or Symptoms of Breast Cancer
- Changes in Lymph Node
Breast tissue spans the area under the arms and into the collarbone, and breast cancer can spread to these lymph nodes before the original tumor is noticed. Lymph nodes are small, rounded immune system tissue groupings that filter fluid and catch viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells. If a breast cancer cell departs, it usually moves to the same side’s underarm lymph nodes. This causes swelling. Swollen lymph nodes may also be found around the collarbone. Small, hard, swollen bumps that may be tender to the touch. Breast infections or other disorders can potentially affect lymph tissue. Doctors can help discover the reason for these changes. [2, 3, 4, 5]
- Swelling in Breasts
Even if you don’t feel a lump, if any part of the breast experiences swelling, this may be breast cancer. Breast cancer can enlarge an area or entire breasts. After swelling, there may not be a lump, but the breast may be slightly different in size. Although people can always have somewhat different-sized breasts, this swelling would modify their regular size. This swelling may also make the skin tight. [2, 3, 4, 5]
- Dimpling in Breasts
Skin dimpling may indicate an aggressive kind of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer. Cancer cells can produce a buildup of lymph fluid in the breast, resulting in swelling and dimpling or pitted skin. Anyone suffering from such skin issues should consult a doctor. This discomfort and dimpling are sometimes referred to as having the appearance of an orange peel. [2, 3, 4, 5]
- Breast or Nipple Pain
Pain, tenderness, and general breast discomfort can all be indications of breast cancer-related changes in skin cells. A lump, if present, causes no discomfort. Despite the fact that breast cancer is often painless, no symptoms associated with the disease should be ignored. Some people experience pain as searing and sensitive. [2, 3, 4, 5]
- Nipple Retraction and Inversion
You may feel your breast being pulled inward and may detect the nipple pulling inward as well. Breast cancer can cause cell alterations beneath the nipple, causing it to flip and reverse inward into the breast, or it may appear different in terms of size. The appearance of the nipple might change during ovulation or other stages of the menstrual cycle. Any new nipple alterations should be discussed with your doctor. [2, 3, 4, 5]
- Change in Skin Texture
Both skin cell inflammation and textural changes can be brought on by breast cancer. Skin thickening in any area of the breast, as well as scaly skin that seems burned or dry around the nipple and areola, are examples of texture alterations. Itching, which is frequently but not always linked to breast cancer, could result from these changes. These skin changes might be signs of Paget’s disease, an uncommon type of breast cancer. Dermatitis and eczema can alter skin texture. [2, 3, 4, 5]
- Abnormal Nipple Discharge
It is possible to see discharge from the nipple. The discharge from the nipple may be clear, milky, yellow, green, or red, but it is not necessarily breast milk. It generally happens without pressing the breasts or only on one. If both breasts are cancerous, both nipples may be affected. Breastfeeding mothers frequently have milky nipple discharge, but a doctor should thoroughly examine any other discharge. Birth control, medications, and infections can also cause nipple discharge. [2, 3, 4, 5]
What causes Breast Cancer?
According to research, there are numerous breast cancer risk factors. This includes:
- Age – Being 55 or older raises your chance of developing breast cancer.
- Sex: Women are significantly more prone to acquiring this cancer than males.
- Genetics: If parents, siblings, children, or other close relatives have had breast cancer, you are more likely to develop it.
- Smoking & Alcohol: Tobacco and alcohol consumption increases the risk of acquiring breast cancer.
- Obesity: Obesity increases your chances of getting breast cancer and having it come back.
- Radiation: The chance of developing breast cancer is higher if you were exposed to radiation in your chest when you were a child or young adult.
- Hormone replacement therapy: People who undergo HRT are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Dense breast: When breast tissue is thick, mammograms are difficult to read. Your chances of getting breast cancer are also higher.
The risk of breast cancer is also affected by various other factors. If you want to know if you’re at risk, you should consult a doctor. [2, 6]
The Bottom Line
Skin changes on and around the breasts are among the indications and symptoms of breast cancer. One should not automatically rule out breast cancer even though various illnesses, such as cysts, infections, eczema, and dermatitis, can produce breast alterations. However, finding out whether any breast changes are cause for concern can be done with the help of a doctor’s evaluation and diagnosis.
The next thing you should do if you observe breast cancer symptoms in yourself, then make an appointment with the doctor. Your doctor will examine your breasts and perform a visual and manual examination to determine whether breast cancer symptoms are present. After that, they’ll probably request additional examinations like a breast MRI, mammography, ultrasound, or biopsy. [4, 5, 6]