Breasts are a very important organ for women. They are the foundation of life because they provide the first complete nourishment for a baby after birth.
The breasts of a woman are primarily made up of fatty tissue and very little muscle. They are also called the mammary glands. The health of the breasts is a very important issue in the modern medical context.
When we refer to breasts as an organ we also mean to include the nipples and the areolas (the dark area around the nipples). Breasts are prone to many different types of diseases and disorders especially after childbirth. Menopausal women also have a high chance of developing some problem or the other.
The two most common diseases that can affect breasts are fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer. The former is generally a benign disease while the latter is mostly malignant. The breasts are also prone to problems like chronic mastitis (prevalent in breastfeeding women) which is mainly an infection of the milk ducts.
The problem with different forms of breast disease is that many of the go unnoticed and untreated for long periods of time. This is because the signs and symptoms of such diseases may not be very obvious to the patient in the initial stages.
This is why doctors these days recommend regular self breast examinations and yearly mammograms after the age of 25 or childbirth (whichever is earlier). Here is a list of the most common signs and symptoms of breast disease that all women should watch out for.
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Disease
Lumps and Bumps
This symptom can be easily detected through a simple self breast exam. If you massage all over breasts including the underarm area with enough pressure and you feel a hard lump of tissue, there may be cause for concern.
This lump may or not be free moving and will not be painful. Any bumps that are visible on the surface of the breasts could also be a sign of breast disease.
Change in Appearance of Nipples
Some patients of breast disease notice that the color and shape of their nipples and areolas start changing suddenly.
The nipples may become slightly deformed and the areolas generally become much darker in color. Slight pigmentation on the surface is also a warning sign. The skin could also look dimpled.
In some cases the nipples start turning inwards or collapsing. They no longer jut outwards and may even become red and scaly.
This is a symptom that indicates that the problem has been allowed to progress too far. The breasts themselves will become highly sensitive and painful to even the lightest touch.
There may also be pain during activities like brisk walking and jogging. The nipples also experience pain and you may not be able to wear tight clothes that put pressure on the breasts or press against them.
This is a rare sign but some women do complain that their nipples and the surrounding skin become very irritated and sensitive. They may feel the need to scratch themselves vigorously.