Understanding the various signs and symptoms that precede a diagnosis of cancer can help you to accurately judge when to make a trip to the doctor. As breast cancer will affect one out of every eight women, becoming intimately familiar with its symptoms can help you get your cancer treated before it becomes an even larger threat.
Breast cancer can begin anywhere throughout the breast, but it most commonly originates near the area of the breast that produces or transports milk to the nipples. Breast cancer is also commonly estrogen-dependent, which means that it only grows in response to localized estrogen in the region of the breast.
The most common symptom of breast cancer include a lump located in or around the breast or armpit area. Other notable symptoms include discoloration in the nipple, changes in the size or shape of the breast, or the presence of a pus-like discharge from the nipple itself.
According to Medline Plus and Cancerhelp.org, swelling of one arm (near the infected breast) often coupled with pain is also a symptom of cancer. Unfortunately, this is typically a sign of a more advanced case of breast cancer, wherein the cancer has already spread to the surrounding lymph nodes in the arm.
Treatment for breast cancer is prescribed on a case-by-case basis, but the general treatment options are surgery (removal of the breast), chemotherapy (drugs used to poison the cancer cells), or radiation therapy (targeted radiation used to kill the cancerous tissue). Surgery is often not an option in advanced cases as the cancer has spread to such an extent that excising all of the infected tissue is impracticable. In these cases, chemo and radiation therapy are your best options.
Remember that localized arm pain can be caused by a variety of factors, so do not immediately assume the worst. If, however, your arm pain is coupled with one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, it would be wise to schedule an appointment with your supervising physician as soon as possible to rule out breast cancer as a possible diagnosis.