Breast cancer awareness month has just gotten underway, which means the Great Pink Push is being unleashed. The cancer industry will shift into overdrive, urging women everywhere to get their mammogram screenings as they beg for cash donations for breast cancer research. All the while providing little in the way of practical preventative tips and tools that women can use toavoid this common form of cancer.

As an informed, health-savvy individual, you probably want to know what you need to look for right now in order to nip breast cancer in the bud. Instead of trying to deal with it after you’ve already been diagnosed – which hopefully will never happen! We’ve compiled a list of five early warning breast cancer signs, most of which are rarely talked about in the media. Learn these signs as part of your preventative arsenal to stay ahead of the game.

Don’t Just Look for Breast Lumps

The most common way that conventional doctors look for breast cancer in women is to identify lumps in the breast. They most often do this with mammogram x-rays. This offer physicians a basic roadmap for navigating the terrain of breast tissue, allowing them to pinpoint any lumps, masses, or other questionable abnormalities that might point to a malignancy.

But mammograms can be a potential cause of cancer due to the ionizing radiation they send into breast tissue. They also aren’t accurate 100 percent of the time, despite what you may have been told. Lumps and masses in breast tissue can be either benign (harmless) or malignant (harmful), and mammograms don’t differentiate between the two. This often leads to false diagnoses and unnecessary treatments with chemotherapy and radiation.

A better option, if you choose to undergo routine cancer screenings, is thermography. This unique screening method allows doctors to not only look for unusual lumps or growths, but also identify whether or not angiogenesis is taking place within the breast tissue. This is a much stronger and more accurate indicator that breast cancer may be present.

Angiogenesis is a fancy way of saying new blood vessel growth, which may indicate that a woman’s body is trying to build a new supply system for blood to be delivered to developing breast tumors. Doctors who specialize in examining thermography images will be able to identify whether or not angiogenesis is taking place, and suggest a proper course of action.

Know the Breast Cancer Signs

Every woman’s body has a unique ebb and flow, and getting in tune with your own personal rhythm is invaluable for staying healthy. Paying close attention to any unusual changes that might be occurring, especially within breast tissue, is critical to avoid breast cancer.

If you feel any unusual aches or pains in your breast, including occasional throbbing, pain, or even fluctuating discomfort, talk to your doctor. Many women assume that only an isolated lump with localized pain suggests the presence of breast cancer. The truth is that breast cancer can manifest as “scattered, seed-like” tumors that, in some cases, spread like small tentacles throughout breast tissue.

Experts from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston warn that breast cancer often shows up without the classic lump, showing symptoms such as swelling and irritation, dimpling, nipple discharge beyond normal lactation, nipple inversion, and/or a thickening and reddening of skin around the nipple.

“There are breast cancers that present as half a lump or there may be no lump at all,” says Dr. Naoto Ueno, chief of Translational Breast Cancer Research at the Center, as quoted by CBS News. “It could just be a strange-looking skin appearance or skin being red or dimpled.”

Just be sure to look for patterns of change or any new and unusual symptoms that occur outside the norm.Occasional pain may not be indicative of breast cancer, but persistent itching, for instance, could point to fluid buildup,poor lymph function, or your body trying to create new blood vessels for breast tumors.

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