Looking at the number of cases increasing day by day, it is not unusual to seek answers to a variety of questions about breast cancer. Surprisingly, a disturbing trend noticeable in our country is the younger age in which women are falling prey to this disease( <40 years) Breast cancer can originate in different areas of the breast including the lobules, the ducts, or in some rare cases, the tissue in between.Here are 10 breast cancer FAQs that will help resolve most of the doubts one has, related to this disease. If you are unable to find an answer to a question you consider important, pleasepost it in the comment box below, and we at Max Healthcare will do our best to answer it.

Q 1. What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

A1. Usual signs of breast cancer include a painless lump or mass, bulging of skin, dimpling, puckering, nipple retraction, change in skin colour and discharge. Having one or more of these signs and symptoms is not a sure shot sign of breast cancer, however, consulting a specialist is recommended.

Q2. What are the top risk factors for breast cancer?

A2. Though the definite cause of breast cancer is still not clear, many factors increase the risk. These factors include increasing age, alcohol, late pregnancy, early menstruation, late menopause, and family history, use of oral contraceptives and history of radiation therapy.

Q 3. How often should the breast self-examination(BSE) be performed?

A. 3. Doctors recommend performing the breast self-exam(BSE) monthly. Dimpling, palpable lump, puckering, discharge from the nipples, inversion of the nipple, scaliness of the nipple/areola area and breast skin should be looked for while examining the breasts. If any of these changes in the breasts are noticed, contacting a specialist is advised.

Q 4. Can wearing bra cause breast cancer?

A 4. There has been a lot of discussion around the connection between bra (especially padded) and breast cancer. However, there are still no studies or surveys that prove wearing a padded bra can cause cancer.

Q 5. Can the risk of breast cancer be lowered?

A 5. Though there is no proven ways that help in preventing breast cancer, certain alterations in lifestyle can lower the risk. Steps that might reduce the risk include maintaining a healthy weight, having an active lifestyle, limiting alcohol and timely pregnancy.

Q 6. Does reproductive and menstrual history increase the breast cancer risk?

A 6.Yes, women who get pregnant for the first time after 30 or later or have no biological children are at an increased risk. Furthermore, women who got their periods before the age of 12 and began menopause after 55 are also at risk.

Q 7. Do all pains in the breast direct to breast cancer?

A 7. Known as mastalgia/mastodynia, soreness or pain in the breast is usually associated with pre and post menstruation. Many women often suspect this as a symptom of breast cancer. However, it is rare that the pain is because of cancer. But, if the pain lasts for more than 3 weeks, seeking a consultation is advisable.

Q 8. Are all Benign Cysts cancerous?

A 8. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs within the breast and can rarely lead to cancer. However, any lump in the breast should be immediately brought to the doctor’s notice and investigated. Cyclical lumps are also common in some women. They are cysts that appear before the menstrual cycle and disappear later. Though they are harmless, there is no harm in getting them monitored.

Q 9. Is Mammography Painful?

A 9. Compression of the breasts during mammography can cause slight discomfort. Doctors always advise the patients to schedule the test a week after the periods, so that the breasts are less tender and hurt less. To prevent discomfort, the doctor may even advise a painkiller approximately 45-60 minutes before the test is conducted.

Q 10. What are the major side effects of chemotherapy?

A 10. The side effects differ from one individual to another. Common side-effects of chemotherapy include nausea, anaemia, mouth sores, appetite change, hair loss, fatigue, infertility, menopause, diarrhoea and changes in smell or taste. 

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