[Fighting Breast Cancer – II] Timely Detection

 Shahana Shah

There are a number of conditions that may be indicative of breast cancer. A lump in the armpit or the breast, pain, skin damage, unusual fluid discharge or any irregular change in normal appearance should be taken seriously and a visit to a doctor must be arranged. This does not mean that these are sure symptoms of cancer. There may be other reasons for these conditions but it is imperative to get examined by a professional to ascertain the cause.

Regular self examination, at least once a month, is recommended even if there are no unusual signs because not all lumps are painful and you may be unaware of their existence. Middle aged or menopausal women are recommended to have a mammography regardless of whether symptoms appear or not because they are at higher risk of getting the disease.

In case of irritation, skin damage or a lump, the first step is not mammography but a biopsy. It is a test involving the assessment of live tissue taken from the affected area. This is done with local anesthesia and is not too painful, though light scarring occurs due to stitches. The result of a biopsy determines whether or not a tumor is malignant. Benign tumors can be removed in minor surgical procedures and surface skin conditions can be treated with medication.

The most important thing is timely action. Once an alarming change is observed it should immediately be reported to a doctor. A lot of women ignore pains and irritations waiting for them to disappear with time or they delay the trip to the doctor’s because they are too afraid to hear that they may actually have cancer. The truth is that just like the rest of the human body, the breast can also suffer from a number of health issues and it is not wise to jump to the pessimistic conclusion that it is cancer. You should remain aware of the risk factors, symptoms and common procedures for the disease but it is only a qualified doctor who can ascertain your condition and recommend a course of action for cure.


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