Breast cancer is a prevalent disease among women, and menopause is a time when women may be at higher risk. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the early warning signs of breast cancer during menopause. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment, which may involve medical treatments for breast cancer such as hormone therapy, gene testing, or HER2 targeted therapy. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) breast cancer screening guidelines also recommend regular screening for women in this age group. In this listicle, we will discuss the early warning signs of breast cancer during menopause and how to recognize them:
A lump in the breast is often one of the first signs of breast cancer. The lump may feel hard or rubbery and may be painless or tender to the touch. However, not all lumps are cancerous, and some benign conditions, such as cysts or fibroadenomas, can also cause lumps in the breast.
2. Thickening or swelling of the breast
Breast cancer can cause thickening or swelling of the breast tissue. This may occur in one breast or both and can be accompanied by a lump or not. The breast may feel heavier than usual, and there may be changes in the shape or size of the breast.
3. Nipple discharge
Nipple discharge that is not related to breastfeeding or pregnancy can be a warning sign of breast cancer. The discharge may be clear or bloody and may occur from one or both nipples. Other non-cancerous conditions, such as infections or hormonal changes, can also cause nipple discharge.
4. Inverted nipple
An inverted nipple, which is a nipple that turns inward instead of outward, can be a sign of breast cancer. This can happen suddenly, even if the nipple was previously normal. However, some women may have naturally inverted nipples, and this is not always a sign of breast cancer.
5. Dimpling of the skin
Breast cancer can cause changes in the skin of the breast, such as dimpling or puckering. The skin may look like an orange peel or have a texture that resembles a dimple. This occurs when the cancer cells pull on the breast tissue, causing it to become tethered to the underlying tissue.
Treatment options to consider:
If breast cancer is detected early during menopause, there are several treatment options that women can consider. These options may include:
- Venetoclax: A targeted therapy that may be used for the treatment of certain types of breast cancer that have spread to other parts of the body.
- Trastuzumab: A targeted therapy that is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer, a type of breast cancer that tends to be more aggressive.
- Mogamulizumab: An immunotherapy that is used to treat a type of breast cancer called triple-negative breast cancer, which does not respond to hormone therapy or targeted therapy.
- Faslodex hormone therapy: A type of hormone therapy that may be used to treat estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, which accounts for about 80% of all breast cancers.
- Neulasta: A medication that is used to reduce the risk of infection in women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
It’s important to note that the choice of treatment will depend on several factors, including the type and stage of breast cancer, the woman’s overall health, and personal preferences. Women should discuss their treatment options with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for their individual situation.