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Five Early Signs of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer signs to look for during your self exam.

The World Health Organization lists cancer as one of the leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million lives in 2020¹. Some of the most common types include:

  • breast (2.26 million cases)
  • lung (2.21 million cases)
  • colon (1.93 million cases)
  • prostate (1.41 million cases)
  • skin (1.20 million cases)
  • stomach (1.09 million cases)

Unfortunately, this disease has been around for many years and remains one of the most unpredictable conditions to treat. Since cancer occurs due to an abnormality during the cell division process, it’s difficult to truly prevent the disease from developing in anyone, even those who have historically lived a healthy lifestyle. Researchers have concluded that abnormalities within cells can happen due to changes within the DNA cell nucleus which can be brought on by genetic factors, environmental factors and/or lifestyle choices. In addition to that, every cancer type differs in severity, aggression and symptoms.

With that being said, breast cancer patients may not all experience the same types of symptoms or treatments. As a matter of fact, some patients may have a higher prognosis over others depending on what stage the cancer is diagnosed, whether or not it is aggressive, and its location. It is also said that people who catch their breast cancer in its early stages have the highest life expectancy with 90% living up to five years or more². This makes us wonder if there are ways to notice these early warning signs. Luckily, there are a few significant signs that could indicate breast cancer, however not all of these signs are unique to the condition nor will everyone experience the same symptoms. Listed below are a few of the most common early signs of breast cancer.

A Breast Lump

Women are normally instructed to give themselves monthly self-breast exams. This is a simple self-inspection of one’s breasts by looking and feeling any changes of breast tissue. If performed correctly, women might be able to feel a lump in one of their breasts. Painless lumps usually indicate a potential tumor, however this is not always the case. Although, it is encouraged that if a woman feels a lump, they should make an appointment with their practitioner for further analysis. Sadly, some lumps may be too small to detect with a simple self-breast exam, therefore it is also emphasized for patients to receive annual thermography scans to monitor breast tissue changes. The earlier the tumor is caught, the higher the prognosis of the patient.

Changes in Appearance and/or Size

While performing a self-breast exam, women should observe their breasts in the mirror and see if either of them look swollen or if the nipples seem discolored. Keep in mind that this symptom also occurs during early stages of pregnancy, however the difference is that changes often occur in both breasts as opposed to one swollen breast in cancer patients. Additionally, swollen breasts also occur due to hormonal changes from birth control or a regular menstrual cycle. Those who notice abnormal breast changes in size, nipple discoloration and have not missed a period should contact a physician for further screening and testing.

Itching, Redness and/or Peeling

This symptom specifically occurs in two types of breast cancer: inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) and Paget’s disease. Inflammatory breast cancer is a more aggressive type of tumor that forms due to a blockage of lymph vessels in the skin. It spreads a lot quicker compared to other types of breast cancer and is usually diagnosed during its later stages because it spreads so fast. On the other hand, Paget’s disease normally impacts the nipple and/or the areola (skin around the nipple). Paget’s disease is normally associated with breast cancer because it indicates a potential for different types of ductal cancer if it’s not treated immediately. However, if one wakes up and discovers their breasts itch, this does not automatically equate to breast cancer, as this can also be an allergic reaction, dry skin, sunburn, or other skin conditions. If the itch persists, it is encouraged to schedule an appointment with a breast cancer specialist or physician.

Nipple Discharge

Discharge from the nipple can appear clear, yellow, milky white, green, brown or bloody depending on the cause. Normally, women who are pregnant or have recently given birth will experience nipple discharge due to lactation. However, it is a little more concerning for those who experience nipple discharge without being pregnant as it could be a sign of an infection, a cyst, a blocked milk duct, or breast cancer. Pay close attention to the color of the discharge because the color can hint to the issue. Nipple discharge that appears clear or bloody is an early sign of breast cancer. A brown or cheese-like color is a possible sign of a blocked milk duct. Green nipple discharge can be a sign of cysts. Finally, milky white, yellow or pus-like discharge could signify an infection of the nipple and/or breast.

Inverted Nipples

Inverted nipples are nipples that lie flat or point inward rather than pointing out. It can usually occur due to aging, menopause, breastfeeding, breast surgery or signify breast cancer. In addition, it can also indicate a bacterial infection called mastitis. If this symptom occurs during the early stages of breast cancer, it is usually accompanied with a lump in the breast (or underarm), dimples on the breast skin and/or pain.

LifeWorks Will Treat Your Breast Cancer

Whether one has already been diagnosed or is still being tested and screened for breast cancer, LifeWorks Wellness Center offers the best alternative treatments for breast cancer patients. It’s important that all patients who are interested in seeking alternative forms of cancer treatment schedule an appointment with a LifeWorks cancer specialist to discuss medical history, CT Scans, Thermography’s, and/or current medications. Treatments will target all malignant cancer cells without compromising the patient’s immune system.

To schedule an appointment with a LifeWorks cancer specialist, please call 727-466-6789.

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About Dr. Minkoff

Dr. David Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then completed both a Pediatric Residency and a Fellowship in Infectious Disease at the University of California at San Diego. He worked at the University of California and Children’s Hospitals in San Diego as an attending physician in infectious disease while conducting original research on Ribaviron, a broad spectrum anti-viral agent to fight disease. He also co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine. In 1992, Dr. Minkoff’s attended a lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, widely considered the father of functional medicine, during which he had a eureka moment, and began pursuing the alternative health field with a vengeance, studying under the most accomplished thought leaders on natural & integrative healing. In 1997 Dr. Minkoff and his wife set up a small clinic to help friends with their medical problems. What began as an experiment blossomed into LifeWorks Wellness Center, one of the most successful clinics for complementary medicine in the United States.