The first step to maintaining breast health is to be aware of what is and what isn’t normal for your breasts. So, regular self-exam of breasts is of utmost importance. Doing so on a regular basis will make you realize that the breast sensitivity changes during different phases of your menstrual cycle. Usually, the breasts feel a little heavier when your period is near.
Many breast problems get aggravated with time due to lack of awareness and proactive approach towards health. It is crucial to visit your gynecologist or your primary health care provider at least twice a year for routine checkups.
What are some of the most common breast diseases?
Breast cysts - These are fluid-filled sacs that are mostly non-cancerous. These are highly common in women nearing menopause. A woman can have multiple cysts in her breasts that can be firm or feel soft, like a grape. Medical treatment becomes necessary only if the breast cysts are large and painful. In such cases, doctors perform a procedure to drain out the fluid from the cyst for fast relief from pain.
Breast abscess - This is a lump containing pus that forms beneath the skin surface due to an infection. Such an infection of the breast is called mastitis. The infection can be bacterial or may develop due to a nipple piercing. Although anyone can suffer from a breast abscess, breastfeeding/lactating women are more prone to it. Symptoms of breast abscess are pain, fatigue, nausea, warmth in the affected region, discharge from the nipple, etc. Immediate consultation with a doctor is necessary.
Nipple discharge - Milky discharge from the nipples is only normal for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, otherwise it can be alarming. In addition, if the discharge contains blood or is transparent, it indicates an underlying breast problem. Birth control pills, breast infection, trauma or injury to the breast, or breast cancer can be the actual cause of nipple discharge. Only a specialist can diagnose and recommend the right treatment.
Breast cancer - Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affects women. Over the past decade, breast cancer cases have been on the rise. Hence, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of doing regular breast self-exams to check for any unusual symptoms.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
- Reddened and pitted skin of the breast
- Unusual change in the size and shape of the breast
- Scaly and pigmented skin of the dark colored region that surrounds the nipple, called areola
- Inverted nipple
- Dimpled skin of the breast
- Formation of breast lump(s)
If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor and get a mammogram done for a clear understanding.
Why should you not delay treatment for breast diseases? When do you need to see a doctor?
Delaying medical consultation is not all advisable. Many of the breast disorders, if not attended to on time, can increase the chances of breast cancer. Doctors run proper screening tests to understand the exact breast condition and its severity.
Request an appointment at Apollo Spectra Hospitals, Jaipur.
Call 18605002244 to book an appointment.
How are breast diseases treated?
In the case of mild breast diseases, a doctor prescribes oral medication. If the condition is severe, like large breast cysts or malignant lumps or breast cancer, breast surgeries are performed.
Some of the most commonly performed breast surgeries include:
Lumpectomy - In this surgical procedure, the surgeon removes the cancerous breast tissue or lump with some margin of normal tissues (surgical margin). Lumpectomy does not harm the healthy tissues and sensation in the breast.
Mastectomy - This surgical procedure is performed mostly in serious cases of breast cancer. In mastectomy, the entire breast is removed surgically. Surgeons consider mastectomy when lumpectomy may be ineffective for long-term results.
Breast abscess surgery - In this surgical procedure, the surgeon makes an incision near the breast to enable the pus to drain out from the abscess. It is conducted under the effect of general anesthesia.
Microdochectomy - It is the surgical procedure for removal of the lactiferous or mammary duct. Microdochectomy is preferred in the cases of nipple discharge.
Being aware of breast health and potential diseases is the key to keeping serious health complications at bay. Do not feel embarrassed if you notice any symptoms of unhealthy breasts and reach out for medical help. Nowadays, safe and minimally invasive treatments are available for breast diseases. Like any other health issue, it is okay to open up about breast health and free yourself from taboos.
Follow these tips to keep your breasts healthy:
- Keep your body weight under check
- Exercise regularly and stay active
- Avoid alcohol, red meat and smoking
- Follow a diet rich in vitamin D and plant protein
- Alcohol and caffeinated beverages
- Fried and processed junk foods
- Refined carbohydrates
Signs of an abnormal breast:
- Lump or mass formation in the breast
- Swelling and skin irritation
- Breast pain
- Nipple discharge
- Itchy skin around the nipple