FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.qns.com OCTOBER 13, 2016 • WELLNESS • THE QUEENS COURIER 45 WELLNESS Warning Signs of Breast Cancer COURTESY SUSAN G. KOMEN FOR THE CURE Due to the increased use of mammography, s most women in the United States are diagnosed at an early stage of breast cancer, before symptoms appear. However, not all breast cancers are found through mammography. The most common symptoms of breast cancer are a change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge. If you have any of these symptoms, see your health care provider. In most cases, these changes are not cancer. For example, breast pain is more common with benign breast conditions than with breast cancer. However, the only way to know for sure is to see your provider. If breast cancer is present, it is best to fi nd it at an early stage, when the cancer is most treatable. Breast lumps or lumpiness Many women may fi nd that their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture. For some women, the lumpiness is more pronounced than for others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry. If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then it is probably normal breast tissue. Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel like a change are a concern. When this type of lump is found, it may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition (such as a cyst or fi broadenoma). See your health care provider if: You fi nd a new lump or any change that feels different from the rest of your breast. You fi nd a new lump or any change that feels different from your other breast. Feel something that is different from what you felt before. If you are unsure whether you should have a lump checked, it is best to see your provider. Although a lump may be nothing to worry about, you will have the peace of mind that it has been checked. Nipple discharge Liquid leaking from your nipple (nipple discharge) can be troubling, but it is rarely a sign of cancer. Discharge can be your body’s natural reaction when the nipple is squeezed. Signs of a more serious condition, such as breast cancer, include: Discharge that occurs without squeezing the nipple Discharge that occurs in only one breast Discharge that has blood in it or is clear (not milky) Nipple discharge can also be caused by an infection or another condition that needs medical treatment. For these reasons, if you have any nipple discharge, see your health care provider. Things to Consider Before Treatment COURTESY SUSAN G. KOMEN FOR THE CURE Fertility options for younger women Having a child after treatment ends Some breast cancer treatments can affect fertility. If you wish to have a child after treatment ends, talk to your health care provider (and if possible, a fertility specialist) before treatment begins. General considerations Chemotherapy can weaken your immune system, so it is important to consider a few things before starting treatment. Flu shot If your treatment will occur during fl u season, it is important to get a fl u shot before treatment begins. The fl u shot now protects against the seasonal fl u and H1N1 (swine) fl u. To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Pap test Women may wish to have a gynecological exam before starting chemotherapy. A positive result on a Pap test (Pap smear) almost always requires a slightly invasive follow-up procedure. Because chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, this procedure should take place before treatment starts. Chemotherapy can also interfere with the results of a Pap test. Dental visits You should postpone routine dental visits until chemotherapy is over. Sometimes dental work can cause an infection in your mouth. Infections can be harder to treat when your immune system is weakened by chemotherapy. If you have dental work or a cleaning that cannot wait until after treatment ends, you should go to the dentist before chemotherapy begins. Travel Although the above precautions are important, you should not feel the need to postpone activities such as travel. In general, it is safe to travel by plane, train or bus while undergoing chemotherapy. However, chemotherapy weakens your immune system. If you travel during your chemotherapy, it’s a good idea to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often to avoid infection.
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