Hina Khan Diagnosed with Breast Cancer: What Are the 10 Early Symptoms of Breast Cancer You Might Not Know?

10 Early Symptoms of Breast Cancer You Might Have Ignored
30 Jun 2024
10 mins
Table Of Content
Hina Khan Diagnosed with Breast Cancer: What Are the 10 Early Symptoms of Breast Cancer You Might Not Know?

    The recent news of Hina Khan, a prominent Indian television actress, being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer has come as a shock to many. 


    What caused the dynamic young lady to fall prey to this deadly ailment? Is it just a hectic lifestyle, or could it be something more? Breast cancer often comes with signs one might often pass off as “normal” or a part of hormonal changes. But when do you need to be on high alert? The next few sections will help you get through that. Read on.  


    What are the 10 early symptoms of breast cancer?


    Nope. These are not a part of your PCOS or menstruation-related changes. Your body is trying to tell you something:


    1. Changes in Breast Shape or Size


    One of the early signs of breast cancer is a noticeable change in the size or shape of the breast. This can include swelling, which might affect all or part of the breast, even if no distinct lump is felt. For instance, a woman might notice that one breast appears more swollen or larger than the other, which wasn’t the case before.


    2. Unusual Lump in the Breast


    While most lumps in the breast are benign, some can indicate cancer. These lumps can vary in texture and size, often being hard and irregularly shaped but sometimes soft and round. It’s essential to perform regular self-exams to detect any unusual lumps early on.


    3. Nipple Discharge


    Unusual nipple discharge, particularly if it is clear or bloody, is a potential warning sign. For example, if a woman notices a clear or bloody discharge from her nipple without any obvious cause, it’s important to seek medical advice promptly.


    4. Skin Changes on the Breast


    Skin changes can be subtle yet significant. Look for redness, dimpling, or thickening of the breast skin, which can resemble the texture of an orange peel. This condition, known as Peau D’Orange, is caused by lymphatic fluid build-up and can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.


    5. Inverted Nipple


    An inverted nipple, especially if it’s a new development, can be a cause for concern. While some people naturally have inverted nipples, a sudden change in nipple orientation warrants medical attention as it may indicate underlying issues.


    6. Breast Pain


    Persistent breast pain or tenderness not related to the menstrual cycle can sometimes indicate breast cancer. For instance, if a woman experiences continuous pain in one area of her breast, she should consult a healthcare professional to rule out cancer.


    7. Swelling Around the Collarbone or Armpit


    Swelling in these areas can occur if breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. For example, a woman might notice a lump or swelling in her armpit, even if there’s no lump in her breast.


    8. Changes in Skin Texture


    Changes in the texture of the breast skin, such as scaliness, ulcerations, or thickening, should not be ignored. These changes might be mistaken for a skin condition like eczema but can be indicative of Paget’s disease of the breast.


    9. Unexplained Weight Loss


    Unexpected weight loss, without any changes in diet or exercise, can sometimes be a symptom of cancer. For example, if a woman notices a significant drop in weight over a short period, it’s crucial to investigate the cause.


    10. Persistent Fatigue


    While common to many conditions, ongoing fatigue not relieved by rest could be linked to breast cancer. If a woman feels constantly tired despite adequate sleep and rest, she should consider discussing this symptom with her doctor.


    When should I go for breast cancer screening?


    Regular breast cancer screening is vital as it can detect cancer before any symptoms develop. Early detection significantly improves treatment outcomes, often before the cancer has had a chance to spread. Screening methods include mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs, depending on individual risk factors.


    • Women Aged 40-44: It’s recommended to start annual mammograms, although this can be optional depending on individual risk factors and family history.
    • Women Aged 45-54: Annual mammograms are strongly recommended.
    • Women Aged 55 and Older: Women can opt for mammograms every two years or continue with yearly screenings depending on their health status and personal preference.


    Who are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer? 


    Women with a family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition (such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations), or other risk factors should consult their doctor about starting screenings earlier and possibly more frequently. High-risk individuals might also benefit from additional imaging tests and genetic counselling.


    Why are breast cancer cases rising in young Indian women?


    Breast cancer cases are on the rise among urban Indian women who are even in their late twenties. Here are some influential factors: 


    1. Lifestyle Factors: Changes in lifestyle, such as poor diet, physical inactivity, and increased alcohol consumption, are contributing to the rise in breast cancer cases among young women. For instance, a diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables can increase cancer risk.


    2. Hormonal Influences: Hormonal factors play a significant role in breast cancer risk. Early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after age 55), and hormone replacement therapy can elevate breast cancer risk. Additionally, the use of oral contraceptives has been linked to a slight increase in risk, particularly if used for an extended period.


    3. Environmental Exposures: Exposure to certain environmental pollutants and chemicals is being studied as a potential risk factor. For example, prolonged exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals, and radiation might contribute to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.


    Some FAQs on breast cancer in India


    Here are some interesting breast cancer FAQs you might want to know about: 


    How Can I Prevent Breast Cancer?


    While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, you have the power to reduce your risk through several lifestyle changes:


    • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Obesity is a known risk factor for breast cancer. By making conscious choices about your diet and exercise, you can significantly reduce this risk.
    • Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and hormone levels.
    • Limit Alcohol Intake: Reducing alcohol consumption can lower breast cancer risk.
    • Eat a Balanced Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains supports overall health.
    • Avoid Smoking: Smoking is linked to various cancers, including breast cancer.

    What Are the Stages of Breast Cancer?


    Breast cancer stages range from 0 to IV:


    • Stage 0: Non-invasive cancer where abnormal cells are present but haven’t spread.
    • Stage I: Early stage where cancer cells are present but haven’t spread significantly.
    • Stage II: Cancer has grown but is still contained in the breast or nearby lymph nodes.
    • Stage III: More advanced cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
    • Stage IV: Metastatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

    Is Breast Cancer Hereditary?


    Yes, about 5-10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary, resulting from genetic mutations. Family history is a significant risk factor. Women with close relatives who have had breast cancer are at a higher risk and should consider genetic testing and counselling.

    Can Men Get Breast Cancer?


    Yes, although rare, men can develop breast cancer. Symptoms are similar to those in women and include lumps, changes in nipple appearance, and discharge. Men should also be vigilant and seek medical advice if they notice any unusual changes in their breast tissue.

    What Are the Treatment Options for Breast Cancer?


    Treatment options for breast cancer vary depending on its stage and type:


    • Surgery: Removing the tumour or the entire breast (mastectomy) is often the first line of treatment.
    • Radiation Therapy: Using high-energy rays to target and kill cancer cells, often used post-surgery.
    • Chemotherapy: Using drugs to destroy cancer cells, commonly used when cancer has spread.
    • Hormone Therapy: Blocking hormones that fuel certain cancers, particularly estrogen and progesterone receptors.
    • Targeted Therapy: Drugs that specifically target cancer cells without harming normal cells, such as HER2 inhibitors.
    Written by
    Dr. Tejashwin AdigaMBBS
    AboutDr. Tejashwin Adiga is a skilled and compassionate physician. He is dedicated to providing high-quality care and prioritizes patient education and preventive medicine. Known for his personalized approach, Dr. Adiga ensures each patient receives tailored treatment. His motto is to stay updated with medical advancements to offer the best care possible, making him a trusted and respected healthcare provider.
    Tags :early signs of breast cancerbreast cancer in indiahina khanstage 3 breast canceradvanced breast cancerbreast cancer treatment