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Buddy Check 10: What signs and symptoms to look for during breast self exams

A new study shows fewer women are showing up for scheduled mammograms during the pandemic. It's important to keep up with those appointments and monthly self checks.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The American Association of Cancer Research reports fewer women are scheduling breast cancer screenings during the pandemic. Doctors worry the delay in testing means the cancer won't be caught until later stages.

Doctors say it's crucial to stay on schedule with mammograms and it's even more important to perform monthly self checks.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Over the course of a woman's lifetime, about one in eight are diagnosed with some form of breast cancer.

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You've heard the phrase "early detection is key" multiple times by now, and for most breast cancers, your regularly scheduled mammogram will pick up cells before they are felt in a self exam.

Doctors encourage those monthly self-checks, so what signs and symptoms should you be looking for that aren't normal?

Let's let the CDC take the lead on that one. Some abnormal signs may be:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

These symptoms may not always mean cancer. It could be an infection or benign causes, but it's important to alert your doctor of any changes you see and if anything feels off. Get an appointment right away for a screening. 

You know your body the best and will be able to tell if something isn't right and it's better to be safe than sorry.


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