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Lumps are not the only symptoms to be aware of during your monthly breast self-examination, it’s important to check for these other tell-tale signs too.

09 Oct 2020

Changes in breast appearance

We’re not talking about sagging or drooping due to loss of elasticity (here’s what you can do about that) but if you notice any of the following on your mammaries, don’t disregard them:
- Red spots
- Bruising
- Dimpling of the skin
- Skin looks reddish or pink
- Skin texture feels different from usual
- Changes in shape
- Swelling of the breasts
- Or shrinkage, especially if it only affects one breast
- Tenderness in the breasts outside of your menstrual cycle

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of these could be early signs of inflammatory breast cancer, which is quite aggressive. We’re not suggesting you should run to the doctor the minute you see a tiny spot or feel a little swollen (sometimes that could be due to menstruation and hormonal changes) but you know your body best. If these symptoms appear out of the blue and don’t go away after some time, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your GP.

Swollen collarbones or armpits

Cancer can travel from the breasts to the lymph nodes located in your collarbones and armpits, which is why it’s important to check these areas too. It can happen that the breasts show no symptoms whatsoever but if you feel something under the arm or the collarbone, get them checked.

Irritation around the nipples and areola

Peeling, crusting, scaling, flaking of the skin – if you notice any of these around the nipples and areola, you should check them checked out. That’s because breast cancer can start from the nipples, causing them to turn reddish or purplish or turning inward. Other warning signs include abnormal discharge and thickening of the areolas.

In short, breast cancer can present itself in many ways and the earlier you catch it, the better your chances of fighting it. If you don’t already do so, perform a breast self-examination every month. Now is a good time to start as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.