Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related female mortality and morbidity worldwide. According to WHO estimates it represents 10% of all cancers diagnosed worldwide and constituted 22% of all new cancers in 2000 in women making it the most common cancer in females.

Pakistan has the highest rate of Breast Cancer than any other Asian country as approximately 90000 new cases are diagnosed every year out of which 40000 dies. According to research conducted approximately 1 out of every 9 women are likely to suffer from this disease at any point in their lives and about 77% of invasive breast cancer occurred in women above 50 years, but if diagnosed early the survival rates approach 90%.

Breast cancer awareness goes far beyond knowing that statistics. It’s about active prevention, and being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, In hopes of catching it early on if it develops. 

The following five warning signs of breast cancer are ones that many women tend to shrug off, but recognizing them may be vital to saving your life.

A New Mole/Change in an existing mole

While moles are commonly associated with a higher risk of skin cancer, they may also be linked to breast cancer. In one study, researchers followed 89,902 women ages 40-65 years old and noted their medical records over a period of 18 years. The number of moles each woman had was documented at the beginning of the Study.

During the study, 5,956 of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers found that the women who had the most moles out of the group had a 13% higher risk of breast cancer than women had no moles. If you notice a new mole or any type of change in an existing mole, visit health care professionals.

A Cough or Hoarse throat that won’t subside

Cancer that starts in one area is known as primary cancer. If some cancer cells break away from primary cancer and move on to another part of the body, they can form another tumor, called secondary cancer.

Breast cancer can spread to the lungs, and it can be detected by a prolonged cough or hoarseness. The cancer spreads to the lungs in 60-70% of women who become terminally ill from breast cancer. The most common signs are shortness of breath and dry cough.

Changes in the bladder or bowels

Breast cancer can cause hormonal changes that dry out the urethra and make it difficult to control the bladder. This is known as incontinence and common signs include leaking in urine during activities such as coughing, laughing, sneezing or exercising, experiencing sudden and urgent needs to urinate, and urination that takes longer than usual. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with a health care professional.  

Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom in breast cancer patients and survivors, but it’s also often present before diagnosis. Fatigue from cancer is not alleviated by sleep or rest. It's typically very severe and often associated with high levels of distress unrelated to the amount of exertion.

Cancer-related fatigue is often accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, sleep disturbance, and depression. Researchers believed this fatigue is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the body which cancer creates.

Unexplained Back pain

Back pain is a common medical problem so common that 8 out of 10 people will experience it at some point in life. Back pain can also be a sign that breast cancer tumors are forming.

Back pain associated with breast cancer may feel like pressure on the ribs and spine or pain in the upper back that feels like it’s coming from the bones. It could also be a sign that breast cancer has spread to the spine.