Breast Cancer Awareness In New Mothers: 5 Signs To Look For While Breastfeeding

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Any unusual swelling of all or any part of breasts should be paid attention to. Here are other signs of breast cancer breastfeeding mothers should not ignore.

Breast Cancer Awareness In New Mothers: 5 Signs To Look For While Breastfeeding

Inflammation of breast tissue or Mastitis is an infection that can happen during breastfeeding

Highlights

  • Breast cancer is quite a common form of cancer
  • An early diagnosis can help in an effective course of treatment
  • Do not miss these symptoms while breastfeeding

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020: Motherhood is a phase that brings with it a range of life-altering and wholesome emotions. The privilege of giving birth to another human life is somewhat spiritual as well as daunting. The body of a woman goes through a major transformation and a lot of these changes are hard to understand at first. Being a new mother can make you lose yourself amidst the sleepless nights and caring for an infant. Besides every other challenge of adapting a new lifestyle after giving birth, breastfeeding in itself can become a struggle to start with. While the joy of feeding and establishing an emotional bond with a newborn is exhilarating, a new mother needs to be aware about the other health factors associated with it.

Many a times, women get so engrossed in caring for the newborn that their body gets sidelined, the constant fatigue and loss of appetite if attributed to the hormonal changes. While most of the time these symptoms are not a cause for alarm but a few of them should be paid attention to. Breast lumps are one such element that need immediate attention as they can be a signal to a larger problem. More often than not, new mothers ignore the lumps assuming they are just blocked milk ducts and due to the lack of awareness about underlying health conditions. However, in many cases women also develop milk clots in their breasts during the breastfeeding period and these clots are very similar to those seen in patients that suffer from breast cancer.

Also read: Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020: Early Detection Can Help Save Lives, Here's How

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020: Signs and symptoms you must not ignore 

According to studies, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in Indian women, accounting to 14 percent of female cancer patients. According to a recent study by breast cancer statistics every four minutes a woman in India is diagnosed with breast cancer. Diagnosis of breast cancer in breastfeeding mothers can get delayed as the symptoms are very similar to the causes of nursing.

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Breast lumps can be a sign of breast cancer
Photo Credit: iStock

Dr Nanda Rajaneesh, general and laproscopic surgeon at Apollo Spectra Hospital Koramangala lists down a few ways to make sure you don't overlook an alarming symptom while breastfeeding:

1. Mastitis: The most common form of infection that occurs during breastfeeding is mastitis which is an inflammation of breast tissue.The Possible causes are a blocked milk duct or bacteria entering the breast and It usually occurs within the first three months of breast-feeding. The key signs of mastitis are- breast tenderness, swelling, pain and fever.

Also read: Breast Cancer: Understanding The Different Stages Of This Cancer From 0 To IV

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2. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): IDC is cancer that begins growing in a milk duct and invades through the fibrous or fatty tissue of the breast outside of the duct. IDC is the most common form of breast cancer, representing 80 % of all breast cancer diagnoses. Some of the symptoms for IDC include- rash or redness on your breast, swelling in your breast, pain in your breast, to name a few. An early diagnosis can help in an effective course of treatment and a higher survival rate.

3. Be observant: No one understands your body better than you so it's imperative that you pay attention to every small change that takes place in your body. While some experts say that any hard masses that don't hurt must be checked, any lumps and bumps that won't shift should be looked over by the professionals. It is always important to assess and understand the signals your body may be giving you.

4. Don't ignore an unusual discharge: While a watery or milky discharge is normal during breastfeeding, an excessive discharge for a longer period of time can be a sign of alarm. Make sure you consult your doctor without any delay in such cases.

Also read: Follow These Expert Guidelines To Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer

5. Swelling of breast: It is common to have a full of engorged breast due to the excessive milk supply in the first few months of becoming a mother. But once the infant has developed a feeding routine, your body supplies milk only as per requirement. So any unusual swelling of all or any part of breasts should be paid attention to.

(Dr Nanda Rajaneesh, Surgical Oncologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon at Apollo Spectra Hospital Koramangala, Bangalore)

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