Seek Medical Attention Once You Observe Abnormality in or Around the Breasts

Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 05, 2016 (SKNIS): Although changes in the breasts are normal and most are not cancerous, it is strongly recommended that persons seek immediate medical assistance once any sort of abnormality such as skin changes, nipple discharge or changes, and lump or firm feeling occur in or around the breasts, to screen for the possibility of breast cancer.

This was revealed during Wednesday’s (November 02) edition of “Working for You” by medical professionals in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, namely, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph Nathaniel France (JNF) General Hospital, Dr. Hazel Laws, Chief Medical Officer and Dr. Retna Walwyn Browne, Director of Community –based Health Services.

Dr. Laws noted that a very important sign or symptom to look for that can be associated with breast cancer is a painful breast, or a lump or swelling of the breasts.

“If you notice one of your breasts is larger than it was before, you know [that] you need to go and get it checked out, as well as changes in the nipple, the areola – the dark area around the nipple or the skin of the breasts,” said Dr. Laws. “Sometimes, we have this peau d’ orange appearance where the breast appears like the skin of an orange. That is abnormal, so you need to go and get your breasts checked. And any abnormal rash on the breast you need to get it checked to make sure it is not cancerous.”

The medical chief of staff also gave his input with regards to the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, noting that often times there are persons who can present a rash in the nipple and there is a possibility that the doctor would treat it with a cream.

“But if it [the rash] persists, you need to have that checked out because there is a particular cancer that is called Paget’s Disease that can spread to the nipple and present as a rash,” said Dr. Wilkinson. “One can have a nipple discharge also, specifically, if the discharge is bloody then you have to be concerned. Now, although the most common cause of a bloody nipple discharge is a non-cancerous lesion that is called an intraductal papilloma, if there is a cancer present, and there is a discharge with the cancer, the discharge is usually bloody and that is why seeing blood coming from the nipple is a red flag.”

Dr. Wilkinson said that at present they are conducting some educational sessions and it is their hope that through the sessions persons would understand what abnormalities of the breasts are and if they find any abnormality to get it checked at an early stage rather than a late stage. He encouraged persons to get their annual checkups and screenings so as to keep in tune with their health, as persons can have breast cancer and do not know due to the lack or absence of signs and symptoms that may not present themselves immediately.

The medical chief of staff made a general plea for persons who experience symptoms to not ignore the signs but instead seek immediate medical assistance. He said that early detection can result in saving the breasts or more importantly, saving lives.

Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include: skin irritation or dimpling, breast or nipple pain, nipple retraction (turning inward), redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.

Information from states that sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt. Swollen lymph nodes should also be reported to the doctor. Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, it is highly recommended for persons who might have them to report such to their doctor so that he or she can find the cause.

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