Minor Ache or Major Problem? 6 Symptoms Exercisers Should Pay Attention To
Symptom: A Sore Breast
Scenario: Your breast is reddish and sore to the touch.
Your downplay: Time for a new sports bra. This one is chafing me.
Doctors' double-take: Even if there's no lump, that irritation can indicate inflammatory breast cancer, says Sandhya Pruthi, MD, director of the Breast Diagnostic Clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. This form of cancer, which can target young women, accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers in the United States, and it's so fast moving and aggressive, it can seem to appear overnight.
What to do: Don't take chances, and don't worry about overreacting. Especially if your breast is warm or if a lump has developed, get to an ER or urgent-care center pronto. To rule out an infection or abscess -- both of which need immediate medical attention in their own right -- the doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics first. If the irritation doesn't start disappearing in two or three days, it may be cancer; a breast specialist will recommend a diagnostic mammogram, and you may need a breast biopsy. Even if you're facing the worst-case diagnosis, early detection "means that the cancer was likely found before it spread to other parts of the body," Dr. Pruthi says. Treatment may include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
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