Breast cancer is a topic that concerns many individuals. While breast cancer can present itself in various ways, one common symptom that raises concerns is breast discharge. Understanding breast cancer is important for early detection and prompt medical attention.
What is a breast or nipple discharge?
Breasts are generally referred to as advanced sweat glands that are known to produce fluids. There are various minute openings that help the fluid to come out through the nipples. Any liquid that flows from the nipples is called nipple discharge.
What are the different types of nipple discharge?
The only discharge that should cause worry is discharge that emerges naturally. The discharge is typically not a problem if it just happens when you squeeze.
Typically, troubling discharge is either clear or bloody. Green, milky, or other coloured discharge generally never raises any issues. It should be brought to your doctor’s notice if you are not breastfeeding but are experiencing significant volumes of milky discharge, as it is one of the early signs of breast cancer.
Single and multiple ducts:
It is particularly concerning if the discharge continuously emanates from a single location on the nipple. However, a woman might be comforted that the discharge is typically nothing to be concerned about if she squeezes her breast and notices discharge coming from several different locations on the nipple.
Do breast discharges at all times indicate breast cancer?
It’s essential to understand that most breast discharges are not cancerous. Benign conditions, such as hormonal changes, infections, or cysts, can cause non-cancerous breast discharge. Nevertheless, any unusual or persistent discharge should be examined by a healthcare provider to rule out potential breast cancer. Usually breastfeeding mothers can experience nipple discharge even after they stop breastfeeding.
Is blood in the breast cancer discharge concerning?
Bloody discharge, known as bloody nipple discharge (BND), can be a concerning sign. While it’s not always cancer-related, it can be an early indicator of breast cancer. In such cases, further evaluation and diagnostic tests, such as mammograms and biopsies, are typically recommended to determine the cause.
What is a unilateral and bilateral discharge?
Unilateral breast discharge, meaning it occurs from one breast, is often more concerning than bilateral discharge, which comes from both breasts. Unilateral discharge can be an alarming sign of a possible underlying issue, such as breast cancer. Bilateral discharge on the other hand, is more commonly associated with benign causes.
What are the other symptoms associated with breast discharge that are concerning?
Breast cancer discharge may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as a lump or mass in the breast, changes in breast size or shape, nipple changes (inversion or retraction), or skin changes on the breast. If you experience any of these symptoms along with breast discharge, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional promptly.
When should you reach out to the doctor for breast discharge?
Women should visit a doctor if a nipple discharge lasts longer than one menstrual cycle or if any of the warning indications appear. If there are no symptoms of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus discharge, a delay of about a week is not dangerous. Within one or two days, women with these symptoms should visit a doctor. As there are various reasons for breast cancer, finding the cause is crucial for treatment.
What are the other signs associated with nipple discharge that indicate breast cancer?
Compared to the right breast, the left breast experiences breast cancer more frequently, and when it does, the disease is typically more severe. In actuality, the left breast has a greater than 20% increased risk of developing cancer than the right.
Flaky skin on the breasts
Another indication of breast cancer may be red, dry, flaky, or thicker breast or nipple skin. Scaling or peeling beneath the breasts is a sign of eczema that some breast cancer patients also suffer. It’s crucial to get medical assistance to identify the source if you encounter certain skin issues.
A fruit peel like skin texture on the breasts:
Have your breast checked as soon as possible if the skin feels heavier and like an orange peel. An infection could be the root of this. However, orange-skin-like breasts with pitting or bumps may potentially be an indication of Paget’s disease.
A lump in the breasts or the armpit area:
The most visible and well-known possible sign of breast cancer is a tumor or lump in the breast. A lump in the breast may be apparent to the eye or felt with the hands during a self-breast check. However, lumps or swollen patches near the collarbone, under the armpit, or around the breast may potentially indicate malignancy. If you notice a lump in the breast or armpits immediately seek breast cancer treatment in Coimbatore to ensure you receive the best care.
An inverted nipple:
Nipples can occasionally shift position or turn inward due to breast cancer, a condition known as an inverted nipple or nipple inversion.
How is nipple discharge examined?
Physical examination and medical history:
A comprehensive physical examination and medical history are conducted first, along with a current mammography. The patient is offered reassurance and advised to check her clothing like bra for any spotting if the recent mammogram results show negative and the discharge is not spontaneous. If the spotting is noticed, a second examination is recommended.
The first test usually performed is a blood test, a blood sample is examined to identify the levels of prolactin and other hormones.
A ductogram is a procedure in which the contrast material is put into the duct under local anesthesia and an X-ray is taken, if the discharge is spontaneous and coming from a single duct. If an abnormality is found, the patient is immediately brought to the operating room to have the problematic duct removed.
The majority of cancers found with this treatment are benign early-stage tumors.
Is discharge from nipples normal?
The flow of fluid from the nipple is known as nipple discharge. It is a very typical breast symptom and, most of the time, it is not a sign of a problem but rather a natural aspect of breast function. It is extremely rare for breast cancer to present with nipple discharge on its own (without a lump or other nipple alteration).
In conclusion, breast cancer discharge can be a concerning symptom, but it’s crucial to remember that not all cases are cancer-related. Nevertheless, any unusual or persistent discharge should be immediately consulted with a breast cancer specialist in Coimbatore to rule out potential breast cancer. Early detection through regular screenings and self-exams remains the most effective way to improve outcomes and save lives in the fight against breast cancer