Know Your Lemons

Did you know that one-third of cancer deaths worldwide could be avoided through education and screening? When breast cancer is found in the earliest stage, the survival rate is nearly 100%. Yet few women know the signs of breast cancer. This is why being able to spot a symptom of breast cancer from the beginning is so important. With that in mind, in 2014, Corrinne Ellsworth Beaumont, PhD, founded a non-profit organization, Worldwide Breast Cancer. Through this, the “Know Your Lemons” awareness campaign was created, using a lemon as an analogy for the breast that could bypass barriers such as age, gender or ethnicity in a friendly, familiar and engaging way.

Thick Area

If you notice that a part of your “lemon” feels less squishy than the rest, this can be a normal part of menstruation or breastfeeding. However, skin thickness that doesn’t go away or grows could be a sign of breast cancer. (Not to be confused with “breast density”, determined through a mammography report)

Dimple

If a dimple in the breast doesn’t go away, it could be a sign of breast cancer. Caused when a tumor deep in the breast pulls the skin inward, a dimple can be more easily seen when lifting your arms up above your head to see if the skin moves with arm movements.

Nipple Crust

Crust on the nipple can be a harmless skin condition or it could be a sign of breast cancer called “Paget’s disease.” This is when cancer cells spread inside the breast and live in the nipple, creating a scab-like red or white crusted surface that can be sore and doesn’t go away.

 

Red or Hot

This is often a symptom common to developing breasts, breastfeeding or eczema. However, if over time or after antibiotic treatments, symptoms don’t improve, then it’s time to see a specialist. This could be a sign of breast cancer.

Unexpected Fluid

Discharge from the nipple is common and often harmless, usually related to developing breasts, infection, cysts, pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, if fluid is leaking from the breast outside of these changes, talk to your doctor, especially if it is clear or contains blood.

Skin Sores

Breast cancer can sometimes build up to the point that it breaks down the skin of the breast to form an open wound. Infection may cause a bad smell and/or leakage. This is usually accompanied by an obvious hard lump. This is an advanced sign of the disease.

Bump

Sometimes a cancerous lump appears on the surface of the breast. However, not all lumps and bumps are cancer. Many are cysts (fluid) or harmless, benign lumps made of various tissue (fibroadenomas). If it’s something that concerns you, talk to your doctor.

 

Sunken Nipple

Retracted nipples can be a normal feature of the breast. However, if you notice your nipple changing and flattening or turning inwards, it could be a sign of a new breast cancer tumor underneath.

 

Growing Veins

This is a rare symptom. Often newly appearing veins are connected to other body changes. However, if veins become more pronounced or bigger aside from these changes, on the breast or near the collarbone (sometimes accompanied with a swollen arm), this could be a sign of a breast cancer.

New Shape or Size

It’s common for one “lemon” to be different in size and shape from the other. Breastfeeding can also cause changes in size or shape. But if one breast changes size, flattens, swells, or droops unexpectedly—and doesn’t seem to be connected to your menstrual cycle—this could be a sign of breast cancer.

“Orange Peel” Skin

When the skin of the breast looks like the dimpled skin of an orange, this is a symptom of breast cancer known as “peau d’orange,” (“orange peel” in French). With peau d’orange, the breast swells to the point that it causes hair follicles to look like little dimples. The skin may or may not change color.

Hard Lump

The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. Although most lumps are harmless, if the lump is hard and doesn’t change, don’t ignore it. A hard lump can feel like a lemon seed, be any shape or size and feels immovable. If you have access to breast cancer screening, use it—a mammogram can detect a lump before it can be felt.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Nightingale is proud to be a supporter of such an important cause. If you have faced breast cancer and are looking for fitting options, check out our website for available products. We carry a large range of items, and our Certified Mastectomy fitters are always happy to help answer any questions you may have.