Breast cancer is one of the most common diseases worldwide. This life-threatening condition affects one in eight American women and thousands of men.
According to the American Cancer Society, it is determined that about 246 660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women by the end of 2016, and about 40 450 women will die from breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the main cause of death among Hispanic women, and the second most common cause of death among Caucasian and Asian women. This form of cancer occurs when breast cells begin to grow out of control. Over time, they form tumors that can be felt as a lump.
Instead of trying to deal with it after you’ve already been diagnosed, which hopefully will never happen, we’ve compiled a list of 5 early warning breast cancer signs, most of which are rarely talked about in the media.
Recognizing these signs may be vital to saving your life.
1. Persistent cough
A dry cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat may indicate that cancer cells have spread to the lungs. This problem is known as secondary breast cancer and occurs in 60 to 70 percent of women who become terminally ill. However, most patients overlook these symptoms because they mimic those of other less serious conditions, such as common cold and flu.
Cancer cells can irritate the pleura (the lining around the lungs), causing difficulty breathing and fluid buildup. Some women may also experience chest pain and hoarse throat that doesn’t subside. If these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, consult your doctor immediately.
2. A new mole / Change in an existing mole
While moles are more commonly associated with a higher risk of skin cancer, they may also be linked to breast cancer. In one study, researchers followed 89 902 women, ages 40-65 years old, and noted their medical records over a period of 18 years. The number of moles each woman had was documented at the beginning of the study. During the study, 5956 of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Researchers found that the women who had the most moles out of the group had a 13% higher risk of breast cancer than women who had no moles. If you notice a new mole or any type of change in an existing mole, visit a health care professional.
Fatigue is a common symptom in breast cancer patients and survivors, but it’s also often present before diagnosis. Fatigue from cancer is not alleviated by sleep or rest. It’s typically very severe and often associated with high levels of distress, unrelated to the amount of exertion.
Cancer-related fatigue is often accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, sleep disturbance and depression. Researchers believed this fatigue is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the body which cancer creates.
4. Digestive problems
Abdominal bloating, constipation, bladder incontinence and tenderness are among the main signs of breast cancer. This disorder causes hormonal changes that affect digestion and organ function. Some patients experience loss of bladder control when laughing, coughing, or sneezing. Others report a sudden need to urinate.
Cancer puts stress on your body and messes up your hormones, which can upset the digestive system. Abdominal or pelvic pain, changes in bowel habits, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and swelling in the abdominal area indicate that something is happening in your body. If you notice any of these symptoms, get some tests done.
5. Back pain
Upper back pain that feels as though it’s coming from deep within the bones may be an early sign of breast cancer. But don’t assume that every occasional bout of soreness or back pain means you’re becoming the next statistic! Chronic back pain that doesn’t relent with stretching, chiropractic, or other means may be a sign that breast cancer tumors are forming.
Sometimes when tumors are developing in a woman’s breast, they put pressure on the ribs and spine causing new found and persistent pain. You need to be aware of any changes that occur in your spinal column, upper back, and even neck. Talk to your doctor if you feel as though the pain you’re experiencing is unusually pronounced and marked by pressure from a possible internal growth.
Menstrual changes, heartburn, upset stomach, lymph nodes in the armpit, and difficulty eating are some of the most common yet overlooked signs of breast cancer. Check your breasts regularly for lumps, hard knots, swelling, and nipple discharge.
Don’t just look for a breast lump
The most common way that conventional doctors look for breast cancer in women is to identify lumps in the breast. They most often do this with mammogram x-rays.
However, mammograms can be a potential cause of cancer due to the ionizing radiation they send into breast tissue. Also, they aren’t correct 100 percent of the time, despite what you may have been told. Lumps and masses in breast tissue can be either benign (harmless) or malignant (harmful), and mammograms don’t differentiate between the two. This often leads to false diagnoses and unnecessary treatments with chemotherapy and radiation.
A better option, if you choose to undergo routine cancer screenings, is thermography. This unique screening method allows doctors to not only look for unusual lumps or growths but also identify whether or not angiogenesis is taking place within the breast tissue. This is a much stronger and more accurate indicator that breast cancer may be present.
Nutrient deficiency and breast cancer
If you’re not getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet, including vitamin D and iodine, your risk of developing breast cancer is already elevated.
Approximately 75% of the adult population is deficient in iodine, which has been shown to help ward off cancer cells in the breast and elsewhere throughout the body.
Vitamin D is another risk factor for breast cancer. A 2012 study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that low vitamin D levels are a hallmark in women with breast cancer.