According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers in women in Indonesia. Breast cancer occurs when cancer cells grow from breast tissue which includes the lobules and breast ducts, along with fat and connective tissue.
In some cases, there are no specific symptoms of breast cancer especially in the early stages. The earlier breast cancer is found, the easier it is for cancer to be treated. This is why early detection is very important. The following are some symptoms that can indicate breast cancer. Having one or more of the symptoms below does not always indicate that you have cancer. However, you are advised to immediately see a doctor if you experience some symptoms and have never undergone a previous examination.
1. Lumps in the breast
For many women, a lump in the breast is one of the early symptoms of breast cancer. This lump is usually not painful, although some people actually feel the opposite. As a precautionary measure, you should check the condition of your breasts every month to get to know breast tissue. Thus, you will easily detect foreign and abnormal lumps.
2. Breast skin changes
Some women find changes in their breast skin. There are a number of rare breast cancer subtypes that cause skin changes, so these skin symptoms are often considered as ordinary infections. Changes in breast skin include:
- Skin thickening
- Indentations on the network
- Skin texture like orange
3. Change in nipple condition
Nipple conditions can also show symptoms of breast cancer. See a doctor if you find changes in the shape of your nipples, pain, or abnormal discharge.
4. Lumps in the armpit
The breast tissue extends down to the arm, so that cancer cells can spread through the lymph nodes under the arm. Check with your doctor if you find a lump or abnormal area around your breast.
4. Metastatic breast cancer
Breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is called metastatic breast cancer or stage 4 breast cancer. Although it is rarely successfully cured, efforts to stop the spread of cancer must still be done. The organs most likely to be affected by metastatic breast cancer are the brain, bones, lungs, and liver. Your symptoms will vary depending on the organ affected by the spread of cancer.
Symptoms of bone metastasis are painful and brittle bones, while symptoms of brain metastasis include visual disturbances, seizures, nausea, and headaches that keep coming. Meanwhile, symptoms of liver metastasis, including:
- Jaundice (on the skin and eyes)
- Skin rashes or itching
- Abnormal liver enzymes
- Appetite loss or nausea
Patients with lung metastasis may experience chest pain, chronic cough, or difficulty breathing.
If you experience these symptoms, it's not necessarily your breast cancer has spread. Depression or anxiety, infection, or other diseases can cause several similar symptoms. For a more accurate diagnosis, contact your doctor for the appropriate test.
If you experience these symptoms, it doesn't mean you have positive breast cancer. Infection or cysts, for example, can also cause symptoms as described above. Make sure you contact your doctor if these symptoms appear or have not been examined before.