Beyond “discovering” a lump in breast self-examination, it is the nipple that could alert you to a tumor in your breasts. We consulted with experts and they explained us the role and importance of the nipple in breast cancer.
All about the nipple in breast cancer
Every day in Mexico, more than 19 women die from breast cancer, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography. And beyond “discovering” a lump in breast self-examination, it is the nipple that could alert you early to a tumor in your breasts.
Discharge that is not breast milk
He International Journal of Preventive Medicine published, in 2012, an investigation entitled “Nipple Discharge: An Early Warning Sign of Breast Cancer“and explains that nipple discharge can be an early symptom of breast cancer.
Discharge from the nipple, due to breast cancer, is not related to the last weeks of pregnancy, nor to the period of breastfeeding, nor to infections or breast abscesses.
This sign can be present in one or both breasts and in some women it is barely perceptible, therefore, it is recommended that they be alert in their underwear: if the bra is stained or sticky.
To talk about the importance of the nipple in breast cancer, the oncologist surgeon, Manuel Acuña Tovar, an expert in breast reconstruction for cancer, explains that there is a very subtle type of discharge in some women that is not accompanied by any other symptoms.
However, in other women the discharge from the nipple can be a yellowish liquid, with “threads of blood” and that even smells bad and deforms the nipple.
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On the other hand: Mammography for pregnant women, lactating women and adolescents
“When the discharge is noticeable, bloody or disfiguring, it is because the tumor is already grown and it is necessary to carry out the treatments (chemotherapy and surgery) immediately,” explains Acuña Tovar.
And is that the incidence of malignancy in patients who present an abnormal discharge from the nipple is 7 to 15 percent. In addition, the possibility of cancer increases when the discharge is accompanied by a breast lump or “lump” and if the patient is over 50 years old, published the International Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Another sign that the nipple gives you in breast cancer are color changes. “It is not uncommon for a woman to have one nipple and areola more or less pigmented than those of the other breast, but it is rare that this color change occurs in a short time,” says the expert.
That is, if the woman has a color change in a very short time, it is a warning sign. Therefore, it is necessary to consult an oncologist, but if the woman has always had that varied color, then there is no need to be alarmed.
“It must be remembered that the color of the areola-nipple complex in each woman is different, even between sisters or cousins, therefore, always be aware of any modification in tonality,” recommends the oncologist surgeon and explains that in some surgeries breast reconstruction removes the entire breast (with all areola and nipple) and is reconstructed with a medical tattoo.
When the nipple is inverted it is another sign that something is wrong, but “there are women who can have one or both inverted nipples and it is normal, the strange thing is that it invests in a very short time in a few days or weeks, this means that the cancer Mammary is already in a very invasive stage “, highlights the interviewee and refers that an inverted nipple means that the tumor is injuring inside.
Prevention is essential to distinguish any alteration in the size, shape or color of the nipple and areola. That is why it is important to be aware of the nipple in breast cancer.
“We must check how our chest is, self-examination is not just looking for a ‘ball’ but carefully observing the skin, and if we observe something suspicious we must resort to a review with ultrasound and mammography, studies that can be indicated in women from 40 years old, “says Acuña Tovar.