It is estimated that one in every eight women will develop breast cancer throughout their lifetime. Of this, around 17% of patients will die from the condition. These statistics highlight the severity of the condition and how crucial it is to undergo regular breast screening with experienced doctors. However, many women believe that any symptom felt in the breast is a sign of cancer, which isn't true. Below are four of the most common conditions with symptoms that are often confused with cancer:
Pain or Discomfort in the Breast
Any form of pain or discomfort in the breast can be very stressful, particularly if this presents itself as a dull, nagging ache. However, breast pain is a very natural condition that isn't usually related to the presence of tumors in the body. Rather, it is usually due to a number of things, depending on whether the pain is cyclical or non-cyclical.
Cyclical breast pain is directly related to the menstrual cycle, and is experienced by most women throughout their lifetime. The effect of cyclic breast pain is breasts that feel highly tender, sore or full. This pain may be exacerbated by stretching, heavy lifting or consuming a poor diet.
Non-cyclic breast pain is often described as a much sharper sensation than the dull ache of cyclic breast pain. This type of pain is not directly related to the menstrual cycle, but usually stems from the breast tissue or pectoral muscle. As such, it usually arises following a strain or muscle injury that directly affects the breast. In these conditions, wearing a supportive bra will help alleviate the discomfort.
Fibrocystic Breast Condition
Fibrocycstic breast condition can be particularly worrying for women as it is associated with the formation of lumps, cysts and tenderness in the breast. These are also symptoms of breast cancer development, so many women suffer a significant amount of stress when these symptoms arise.
However, fibrocystic breast condition has nothing to do with breast cancer and is a fairly common occurrence in women between the ages of 30 and 50. Many cases of fibrocystic breast condition are diagnosed during breast cancer screening, as both conditions are highlighted following a clinical breast exam and mammogram.
The clinical name for breast inflammation is mastitis, and it is a condition that occurs often in women who are breastfeeding. This happens where bacteria has infiltrated the breast via the nipple, and has been left to grow within the breast duct.
The telltale signs of mastitis are swollen, red and hot breasts which can often be tender to touch. This condition is nothing to be concerned about, and can usually be treated with a course of antibiotics. Where pus is present, the breast may need to be drained in order to remove any unnecessary fluid.
Fat necrosis is similar to mastitis in that it is usually associated with swelling or tenderness of the breast. However, fat necrosis does not occur due to infection. Rather, it usually occurs as a result of trauma or injury to the breast. Once the injury has healed, scar tissue may remain on the surface of the skin.
The symptoms of fat necrosis are very similar to those of breast cancer, which may cause some worry. Areas of the breast that are subject to fat necrosis can feel like a firm lump, or an area of thickened skin. Your breast can be tender to touch, and may even be painful when wearing normal bras or tops. In some cases, your nipple may turn inwards and appear like a small dimple on your skin.
Due to the similarities in symptoms between fat necrosis and breast cancer, it is highly advisable to visit a qualified doctor as soon as possible. Even if you suspect it is only fat necrosis, it is better to have the presence of tumors ruled out by mammograms and clinical breast examinations.
Breast cancer is a worrying prospect for many women, which is entirely understandable. However, it's important that you don't put yourself under unnecessary stress when symptoms arise related to the breast. In order to keep yourself right, be sure to consult with your doctor who will be able to arrange a mammogram for you in order to rule out the presence of cancer. Check out a facility like EVDI Medical Imaging to set up an appointment for a mammogram.