Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with nearly 1.7 million new cases diagnosed in 2012. This represents about 12% of all new cancer cases and 25% of all cancers in women, making breast cancer the second most common cancer overall.

Breast cancer affects millions of women around the world every year. It's the most common diagnosed cancer among women in 140 out of 184 countries worldwide.

​According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, since 2008, worldwide breast cancer incidence has increased by more than 20 percent and mortality increased by 14 percent. Globally, breast cancer now represents one in four of all cancers in women.

Based on these figures, it's clear we can't afford to sweep this topoc under the rug.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, occurring every year to raise money for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. Most importantly, as the name suggests, it also aims to inform people and get more people talking about the disease for the purpose of educating more people.

Symptoms of breast cancer

Some of the possible early signs of breast cancer

The first symptoms of breast cancer are usually an area of thickened tissue in the woman's breast, or a lump. The majority of lumps are not cancerous; however, women should get them checked by a health care professional.

Women who detect any of the following signs or symptoms should tell their doctor (NHS, UK):

* A lump in a breast

* A pain in the armpits or breast that does not seem to be related to the woman's menstrual period

* Pitting or redness of the skin of the breast; like the skin of an orange

* A rash around (or on) one of the nipples

* A swelling (lump) in one of the armpits

* An area of thickened tissue in a breast

* One of the nipples has a discharge; sometimes it may contain blood

* The nipple changes in appearance; it may become sunken or inverted

* The size or the shape of the breast changes

* The nipple-skin or breast-skin may have started to peel, scale  or flake.

Women are usually diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine breast cancer screening, or after detecting certain signs and symptoms and seeing their doctor about them.

If a woman detects any of the breast cancer signs and symptoms described above, she should speak to her doctor immediately. The doctor, often a primary care physician (general practitioner, GP) initially, will carry out a physical exam, and then refer the patient to a specialist if he/she thinks further assessment is needed.

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