Are you looking for breast cancer symptoms and breast cancer prevention? Mere reading those words can make any woman worry and that is natural.
Breast cancer is not cool and no one wants to have it. Nearly everyone knows someone who is suffering from it. But there is a lot of good news about breast cancer today. Its treatment is getting better every day and we now know more about breast cancer prevention than ever.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a condition where breast cells grow out of control. Breast cancer can start in any part of the breast, though in most cases, it starts from lobules or ducts. It can also metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
Types of breast cancer
There are different types of breast cancer, but all of them fall into two broad categories which include:
- Invasive breast cancer: This type of cancer is where the cancerous cells break through breast tissue barriers and metastasize or spread through lymph nodes and bloodstream to other parts of the body.
- Noninvasive breast cancer: This type of breast cancer is where the cancerous cells remain in a location of the breast, without metastasizing or spreading to surrounding tissue, ducts or lobules.
Breast cancer symptoms
The most important part of breast health is to know how your breasts normally feel and look. Finding breast cancer early gives you a better chance of successful treatment but it is important to know what to look for to be able to detect it as early as possible.
The most recognized breast cancer symptom is a lump or mass in the breast tissue. Although every woman should visit a doctor after finding a lump, they also need to be aware of changes to their nipple or breast and see a doctor as soon as they discover anything strange.
Although lump or mass is a breast cancer symptom, a painless, hard mass with irregular edges is more likely to be cancer. Breast cancer can also be soft, tender or rounded. They can be painful. That is why it is important to check any new breast lump, mass or breast change with an experienced health care professional.
Different types of breast cancer come with a variety of related symptoms. For instance, IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma), which forms in the milk ducts, may cause a distinct breast lump you can feel. ILC (invasive lobular carcinoma), which forms in the milk-producing gland, may cause a thickening in the breast.
What are the 5 warning signs of breast cancer?
Breast cancer warning signs vary from person to person. Here are the common warning signs of breast cancer:
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- Changes in one or both nipples appearance
- General pain on/ in any part of the breast
- A change in shape or increase in the size of the breast(s)
- Nodes or lumps felt on or inside of the breast
- Skin changes, such as redness, swelling, or visible differences in one or the two breasts
Symptoms more specific to invasive breast cancer include:
- A breast thickening or lump
- Itchy or irritated breast
- Flaking or peeling of the nipple skin
- Pitting or redness of the breast skin (just like the skin of an orange)
- Changes in touch (may feel, warm, tender or hard)
- Change in the breast shape or increase in breast size over a short period of time
- Change in breast color
But remember that other conditions may also cause the above changes. For instance, changes to the breast’s skin texture may be caused by skin conditions such as eczema, while swollen lymph nodes may be caused by an infection in the breast or other illness not related to breast cancer. That is why it is important to see a doctor once you notice any of the signs.
Invasive breast cancer symptoms
Some of the invasive breast cancer symptoms are:
- Nipple or breast pain
- A lump or mass in the breast
- Nipple discharge
- Nipple retraction (nipple turning inward)
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- A lump or swelling in the underarm lymph nodes
- The breast or nipple skin appears thickened, scaly or red
- Swelling of all part of the breast, even if no lump is felt
Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms
IBC (inflammatory breast cancer) rarely causes breast lumps and may even not appear on a mammogram. Some of the inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:
- Burning, aching or heaviness in one breast
- Swollen, itchy, red breast that is tender to touch
- An inverted nipple (nipple facing inward)
- One breast is visibly bigger than the other
- No mass is felt with a breast self-exam
- The breast’s surface may take on pitted or ridged appearance, similar to an orange peel
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm and/ or above the collarbone
- Symptoms unresolved after a course of antibiotics
Inflammatory breast cancer is not like other types of breast cancer that can be easily detected. Therefore, a breast self-exam, mammogram or clinical breast exam may not detect inflammatory breast cancer.
In fact, ultrasounds may also not detect inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the breast’s surface as a result of inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.
Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms can develop rapidly and progress quickly. If any change in the appearance or texture of the breast is detected, it should be reported to the doctor immediately.
For pregnant women or those breastfeeding, swelling, soreness, itchiness and redness are often signs of a breast infection like mastitis, which can be treated with antibiotics. If you are not nursing a baby or pregnant and you develop these symptoms, go to your doctor for a test for inflammatory breast cancer.
Lobular carcinoma breast cancer symptoms
LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ) doesn’t cause symptoms and mammogram cannot even see it. It is usually found when a doctor is carrying out a breast biopsy for another reason like investigating an unrelated breast lump.
If a person has lobular carcinoma in situ, the breast cells will look abnormal under a microscope.
Ductal carcinoma breast cancer symptoms
DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) doesn’t cause any symptoms. Hardly can a woman have nipple discharge or feel a lump in the breast. However, most cases of ductal carcinoma in situ are detected with a mammogram.
Male breast cancer symptoms
Although male breast cancer is rare, its symptoms can be similar to women breast cancer symptoms, which may include:
- Discharge of fluid from nipples
- Thickening of the breast
- Lumps in the breast, usually painless
- Change to the breast skin or nipple, such as redness, puckering or dimpling
Papillary carcinoma breast cancer symptoms
Papillary carcinoma may not be present, but a routine mammogram may detect its development. Here are the common symptoms related to papillary carcinoma:
Nipple discharge: Around 50% of papillary carcinomas happen beneath the nipple, causing bloody nipple discharge.
Mass: Papillary carcinoma is mostly detected as a lump or cyst of around 2 cm and 3 cm in size that may be felt with the hand when carrying out breast self-exam.
Metastatic breast cancer symptoms
Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on its stage and the part of the body it has spread to. Sometimes, it may not cause symptoms but here are some of metastatic breast cancer symptoms:
- If it has affected the bones, symptoms may include constipation, fractures, pain or decrease alertness due to high calcium levels.
- If it has affected chest or breast, symptoms may include nipple discharge, pain, or a lump or thickening in the underarm or breast.
- If it has affected the liver, symptoms may include swelling of the hands and feet due to fluid collection, extreme fatigue, nausea, increased abnormal girth and itchy or yellowing skin.
- If tumors form in the lung, symptoms may include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, chest wall pain or coughing.
- If it has spread to the spinal cord or brain and forms tumors, symptoms may include memory loss, confusion, blurred or double vision, headache, pain, seizures, difficulty with speech or difficulty with movements.
Triple-negative breast cancer symptoms
Although this type of breast cancer doesn’t seem different from other types, it has its own unique characteristics like:
Cell type and grade: The cells of this type of cancer tend to be “basal-like.” It means that they look like the basal cells lining the breast ducts. The cells may also be a higher grade, making them not looking like normal healthy cells anymore.
More aggressive: Compared to other types of breast cancers, triple-negative breast cancer has a greater tendency to spread and recur even after treatment. Following therapy, this risk decreases after the first few years.
Receptor status: Tests that detect receptors for progesterone, HER2 and estrogen will be negative, meaning hormone therapy; a traditional breast cancer treatment is not effective. Instead, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation will be the triple-negative breast cancer treatment options.
How to check your breasts?
Checking your breast takes just a few minutes. You don’t need special training to check your breasts, but be sure to check the whole area of the breast, including upper chest and armpits. Here is how to check it:
Breast cancer risk factors
Breast cancer is a multifunctional disease because multiple culprits often contribute to its development. The following are some of the breast cancer risk factors you can’t control:
- Having no children or having your first child after 30
- Familial history
- Being a carrier of the breast cancer gene
- Being female (although it is very rare, breast cancer can also occur in men)
- Reaching menopause after 55
- Ethnicity (for example, African-American women are at higher risk of breast cancer than Caucasian women)
- Starting menstruation prior to age 12
- Getting older (the median age for being diagnosed is 62)
Here are some of the breast cancer risk factors that are within your control:
- Artificial light and night
- Physical inactivity
- Synthetic hormones
- Ionized radiation such as CT scans, X-rays and long flight on planes
Breast cancer prevention: how to prevent breast cancer?
If you are concerned about breast cancer, you might be thinking of how to prevent breast cancer and avoid having it at all.
Breast cancer prevention begins with healthy habits like staying active and limiting alcohol intake. Some risk factors like family history can’t be changed but lifestyle changes you make can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
How to prevent breast cancer?
There is no particular way to prevent breast cancer, but you can reduce the risk of having it through the following:
#1. Become aware of common products you use
Several chemicals in products you use can contribute to breast cancer. According to research, phthalates found in many deodorants, shampoo, nail polish and many other beauty products can contribute to breast cancer.
Be sure to know the ingredients to avoid when using personal care products. Research showed that cancer patients often respond well to chiropractic care, achieving great outcomes that are not attainable by other therapies or medication, or that reduce patient’s requirement for analgesic or narcotic medication.
If you have treated breast cancer in the past, it makes sense to visit a chiropractor to relieve headaches, back pain and joint pain.
#2. Keep weight in check
Of course, losing weight is common these days, but it is important for everyone to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase the risk of breast cancer, which is why you should watch your weight and keep it in check.
#3. Breastfeed, if possible
Breastfeeding for one or more years lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also offers great health benefits for the child.
#4. Be physically active
Exercise is great for good health, but women who are physically active for a minimum of 30 minutes a day will also lower the risk of breast cancer. In fact, regular exercise can help you keep your weight in check.
#5. Don’t smoke
We all know smoking is not healthy. Aside from lowering quality of life and increasing the risk of hypertension, stroke and heart disease, it also increases the risk of breast cancer. It also causes wrinkles, bad teeth and smelly breath. So, you have every reason not to smoke.
#6. Avoid birth control pills, especially after age 35 or if you smoke
Just like birth control pills have benefits, they also have risks. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. Although women taking birth control pills have a higher increased risk of breast cancer, the risk goes away as soon as they stop taking the pill.
The risk of heart attack and stroke is also increased while taking the pill, especially for women who smoke. However, using it for long can also have vital benefits such as lowering the risk of uterine cancer, colon cancer and ovarian cancer and of course, an unwanted pregnancy.
Although birth control pills offer lots of health benefits, you should avoid them if you are very concerned about lowering the risk of breast cancer.
#7. Eat fruits and vegetables
Eating right can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to lower the risk.
#8. Avoid post-menopausal hormones
You should avoid taking post-menopausal hormones for long term to prevent conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis. Studies show that they have a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of certain diseases and lowering the risk of certain diseases.
Both estrogen-plus-progestin hormones and estrogenonly hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. As a woman, if you have to take post-menopausal hormones, it should be for the shortest possible time. Talk to your doctor to know more about post-menopausal hormones.
#9. Raloxifene and tamoxifen for women at high risk of breast cancer
Although not commonly discussed as a healthy behavior, women can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer if you take the prescription drugs raloxifene and tamoxifen. These two drugs are approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention and can have side effects. So they are not for everyone.
If you are at high risk of breast cancer, discuss it with your doctor to see if you can take these two drugs.
#10. Limit alcohol
The more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk of breast cancer. To lower the risk of breast cancer, limit yourself to less than one drink a day.
#11. Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution
Medical-imaging methods like computerized tomography use high doses of radiation. Although more studies are needed, some studies suggest a link between cumulative exposure to radiation over lifetime and breast cancer. So be sure to only have tests involving radiation only when absolutely necessary.
#12. Manage stress levels
To prevent or reverse breast cancer, find a way to de-stress. Research showed that chronic stress can contribute to breast cancer and other types of cancer. Several studies show mindfulness, yoga and meditation are some of the best ways to effectively manage stress.
#13. Optimize sleep
A study found that short duration sleep and frequent snoring created significantly poorer cancer-specific survival, especially for women with breast cancer. Not too little and not too much, but optimal sleep levels can help you balance your hormones and support immune health.
If you find it difficult to get eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep, try sleep support supplement that will make you fall and stay asleep naturally.
#14. Get the right nutrients
Getting certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients can help you prevent or reduce the risk of breast cancer. For instance, a study showed that vitamin D can reduce the risk of breast cancer by inhibiting cancer invasion and metastasis.
On the other hand, a lower intake of the B vitamin folate can increase the risk of breast cancer. So be sure to talk to your health care professional for the right nutrients for you.
17 foods that prevent breast cancer (foods that fight breast cancer)
If there is an easy place to start your fight against breast cancer, it is your kitchen pantry. Although there is no specific food that can prevent breast cancer or cause breast cancer, a dietary guideline may help you reduce overall breast cancer risk.
According to the American Cancer Society, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer at some point in her life is 12%. Although risk factors for breast cancer like genetic factors are out of your control, experts estimate that it is possible to prevent 1 out of 20 cancer cases by simply changing what we eat.
Some compounds found in foods we eat, such as antioxidants (beta-carotene and lycopene), phytosterols, ellagic acid and fiber, have been found to help regulate estrogen and prevent cancer cell formation.
While there is no single food that is guaranteed to prevent breast cancer, the following foods are the foods that fight cancer:
#1. Green tea
Green tea offers a number of health benefits from blood pressure management to weight loss. Green tea has also been the subject of an ongoing study in human and animals for its cancer prevention role.
That is because it is high in catechins and polyphenol. These antioxidants may help protect cells from DNA damage caused by free radicals. Although more research is needed to prove the effectiveness of green tea, there is no harm in sipping a cup of it every day.
According to the International Journal of Cancer study, consuming a serving of fungi a day might help you prevent breast cancer. Researchers found that Chinese women who eat only 10 gram or more of fresh mushroom every day were about two-thirds less likely to develop breast cancer than women who don’t consume mushroom,
Studies have also shown that a high intake of mushroom is associated with low risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women. Although studies have not nailed the link between breast health and mushroom, you have nothing to lose for eating it every day because it is rich in vitamin D.
Walnuts may help reduce the risk of breast cancer in two ways. First, it contains a vitamin known as gamma tocopherol, which stops the activation of Akt – the enzyme which is important for cancer cell survival – without harming healthy cells.
Secondly, walnuts contain cholesterol-like molecules known as phytosterols that help regulate women and men estrogen levels and even block estrogen receptors to slow the growth of breast cancer.
#4. Sweet potatoes
Orange-colored veggies are a great source of carotenoids. Sweet potatoes are very rich in a carotenoid called beta-carotene. The study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that women who have the high highest levels of beta-carotene in their blood had a 17% lower risk of developing certain types of breast cancer.
If you want to get more carotenoids out of your sweet potatoes, blanch them and season them with your favorite spice mix.
#5. Cooked potatoes
Cooked tomatoes are a great pasta sauce and may help women lower the risk of breast cancer. Recent studies showed that carotenoid antioxidant found in tomatoes called lycopene was effective at helping women with harder-to-treat breast cancer: estrogen receptor – negative tumors.
The result of the study showed that women with the highest levels of carotenoids had a 19% breast cancer lower risk while women with the highest levels of lycopene had a 22% lower risk.
Eating fiber-rich pomegranates can help inhibit the growth of hormone-dependent breast cancer. A study showed that the ellagic acid in pomegranates might protect you against breast cancer by suppressing the production of estrogen and preventing the growth of cancer cells.
Of course, you can also enjoy pomegranate juice because it contains polyphenols. A study suggests that pomegranate juice has the potential to prevent certain cancers, including breast cancer. However, more research is needed before it can be officially recommended, but nothing stops you from enjoying it.
Berries including black raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, contain a high amount of polyphenols that offer anticancer properties. They are also high in antioxidants like vitamin C. Evidence showed that berries may help lower the risk of breast cancer, but dosage recommendation is not known yet.
#8. Plums and peaches
A 2009 animal study found that polyphenols found in plum and peaches may prevent breast cancer from forming and multiplying. The study showed that polyphenols help kill only cancerous cells and leave healthy cells alone.
Consuming these healthy fruits have no downside, but more research is needed to confirm the amount of it that will work against cancer properly.
#9. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are high in antioxidant vitamins like C, E and K, and also rich in fiber. These vegetables contain glucosinolates, a chemical which may help fight cancers, including breast cancer.
Some of the most popular cruciferous vegetables are:
- Brussels sprouts
#10. Dark, leafy green vegetables
Greens are very rich in fiber and antioxidants, which may offer anticancer properties. But the darker the green, the denser the nutrition.
Here are the popular options:
- Swiss chard
- Collard, turnip, beet greens and mustard
#11. Wild salmon
Wild salmon is a fatty fish high in healthy fats called omega-3fatty acids. These fats have been linked with lowering breast cancer risk. A study found that women who ate the most fish-based omega-3 fatty acids were 14% less likely to develop breast cancer, compared to women who consumed less.
You can add wild-caught salmon to your diet twice a week if it is not your thing. You can also opt for mackerel, anchovies or cod if you don’t like salmon.
#12. Olive oil
In a study, women who were fed with extra virgin olive oil had a 68% lower risk of having breast cancer compared to those who got their dietary fats from corn oil. The anti-inflammatory phenolic compound and oleic acid in olive oil may have quelled the growth of malignant cells.
Eggs remain the best source of a hard-to-get nutrient called choline. This neurotransmitter building block is vital for the structure and function of all body cells. Its deficiency has been linked to decrease cognitive function and neurological disorder.
This nutrient can help lower the risk of breast cancer and act as brain food. The highest the choline you get, the lower the breast cancer risk. Check here for how to enjoy the egg.
If you are a coffee drinker, you will not only enjoy the energy it gives, but also its breast cancer lower risk property. The research found that coffee drinkers had a lower incidence of ER-negative breast cancer than those who don’t drink it.
Turmeric contains the compound known as curcumin, an antioxidant polyphenol which has chemopreventive properties. Curcumin anti-inflammatory properties help diminish the formation of breast cancer.
A study found that out of 33,000 women, women who had the highest amount of carotenoids had 18% to 28% lower risk of breast cancer. Carrots are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and you should consume carrots as much as you can. You can even add them to other diets.
Not only is orange a favorite cocktail mixer, but it is also packed with cancer-fighting chemopreventive properties. A study found that a high intake of citrus fruits may help lower the risk of breast cancer.
Flaxseed offers amazing health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure. In fact, it is the best source of lignans. A study showed that dietary flaxseed has the potential to reduce the growth of tumor in patients with breast cancer.
You can easily add flaxseed to yogurt parfaits, smoothies or mix it in your morning oatmeal.
What kind of food causes breast cancer?
As scientists continue to explore how food can help reduce the risk of breast cancer, people have continually asked “what kind of food causes breast cancer?” although studies are still on to detect what kind of food causes breast cancer, you are advised to cut down on the following foods:
Studies have found a link between consuming alcohol regularly and an increase in the risk of breast cancer. The research reported that alcohol may increase estrogen levels and damage to DNA cells.
The study also found that women who sip 3 alcoholic beverages per week increase the risk of having breast cancer by 15%. The risk rises by about 10% with each additional drink per day.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers have found that when mice consume a diet rich in sugar, they are more likely to develop mammary gland tumors, which is similar to breast cancer in women. Also, the tumors are likely to metastasize or spread.
Not all fats are bad. For instance, these healthy fats to eat are linked with reduced risk of breast cancer and you should be eating them. However, you should be careful with trans fat as they are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Trans fats are commonly found in processed foods like donuts, packaged cookies, some crackers and fried foods.
#4. Red meat
Studies have found a link between red meat and higher possibility of breast cancer, especially if the red meat is “well done.” Also, cold cuts and processed meats tend to be high in salt, preservatives and bad fat, making them not effective foods for breast cancer prevention.
When to see a doctor
When you notice any of the breast cancer symptoms, don’t panic. Other factors can cause those symptoms. However, you should be proactive about your health by visiting a doctor to determine if the symptoms are a result of breast cancer.
The bottom line
While breast cancer can cause signs and symptoms including changes to the skin around and on the breast, the symptoms may be a result of infections, dermatitis, eczema and cysts. However, you should not rule out breast cancer.
Diet and nutrition is a vital aspect of fighting and preventing breast cancer, so be sure to mind the kind of food you eat.
As important as eating healthy is, it is important to see a doctor as soon as you notice any of the breast cancer symptoms listed above. Your doctor will be able to advise you on breast cancer prevention suitable for you.