According to studies, approximately 13,400 women aged 70 years and above are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. While 30 percent of all women with breast cancer report at least one sign or symptom of the disease, a study found that only 48 percent or about half of the diagnosed women aged 70 years and above can identify a clinical presentation of breast cancer aside from a lump.

The Public Health England starts the nationwide program dubbed as "Be Clear on Cancer" campaign on Monday, July 13. The goal of the campaign is to increase awareness of the breast cancer risk among women aged 70 years and above as well as to provide more information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer that are not commonly known.

Although the most notable sign of breast cancer is a lump, there are other clinical manifestations, which may suggest that breast cancer may be present. According to the Cancer Research UK, 90 percent of breast lumps reported are benign, meaning they are not cancers; hence, it is important for high-risk women to be aware of other signs and symptoms suggestive of breast cancer.

Changes in breast appearance and sensation are two of the main symptoms to look out for, aside from a breast lump. Changes in how the breast may look like that can suggest a breast cancer include:

  • Recent changes in the size and shape of the breasts, especially if only one breast is affected

  • The appearance of a pitted breast part or dimpling of the skin

  • Unusual nipple changes, specifically inversion, irregular shape and abnormal sinking into the breast

  • Bloody nipple discharge

  • Skin irritation or rash around the nipple area

  • Changes in skin texture

  • Abnormal enlargement of the pores in the skin of the breast, comparable to an orange peel

  • Recent change in the asymmetry of the breast

  • Lump in the armpit

Aside from the physical appearance changes of the breast, a woman with breast cancer may also experience changes in the sensations of the breast and thus, should look out for the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness and/ or pain in the nipple area

  • Tenderness and/ or pain in the armpit

  • Tenderness and/ or pain in other body parts near the breast

Breast cancer may have a better prognosis if diagnosed during the early part of the disease. Therefore, it is critically important for women, especially those who belong to the high-risk group or aged 70 years and above to increase their awareness of the other signs and symptoms suggestive of the disease.

Photo: Alyssa L. Miller | Flickr

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