The most reported is the nodule, but it is not the only reason and it is not always a nodule that is linked to breast cancer, as Dr. Andrea Sagona, Senologist at the Breast Unit in Humanitas Cancer, explains on Dblog at Repubblica.it.
In addition to the nodule, which has characteristics of a hard pebble and irregular contours, patients may have infections and inflammations, breast abnormalities (e.g. breast retraction), ulcers, orange peeled skin, blood or serous secretions, swelling in the arm or armpit.
The specialist explains further: “It is difficult to make an exhaustive list: it is important to notice every change in your breasts, especially if it is asymmetrical. Standing in front of the mirror can help you to evaluate the symmetry between the two breasts: the deformities of the breast profile with respect to the other breast and compare it to a clock bell “.
When to contact a senologist
These symptoms are also mentioned in a recent study conducted by the University College of London on a sample of more than 2,300 breast cancer patients: one in six women report the symptoms, in addition to the nodule. The study also shows that women with these symptoms (breast ulcers, nipple abnormalities, infections or inflammations, swelling and axillary pain) seek advice from their doctor later than those who notice the presence of the lump alone.
However, in case of suspicion the first thing to do is to report your symptom(s) immediately to a breast care professional, preferably in a specialist center for breast diseases, due to the ability to prescribe the most appropriate test and examinations”, Dr. Sagona explains.
It should also be pointed out that “a nodule is not always a sign of breast cancer, as it may be due to normal glandular changes related to the menstrual cycle, or it may be a benign formation”, Dr. Sagona comments. Moreover, a nodule can be the result of some of the other mentioned symptoms, for example, the shrinkage of the nipple and serum or blood secretions.
Visual examination and self-inspection are the means that women have to be aware of their bodies’ structure and notice any changes that occur,” concludes Dr. Sagona.