Provista Blog > Breast Cancer Symptoms & Dense Breast Patients
Breast cancer symptoms can be easy to miss when the tumor is small and most easily treated. Therefore, it is very important for women to follow recommended screening guidelines to detect breast cancer at an early stage.
When breast cancer has grown to a size that it can be felt, the most common physical sign is a painless, but "palpable" lump. Sometimes breast cancer can spread to underarm lymph nodes and cause swelling even before the original breast tumor is large enough to be felt. Less common signs and symptoms include breast pain or heaviness; persistent changes to the breast, such as swelling, thickening or redness of the breast's skin; nipple abnormalities such as spontaneous discharge, erosion or retraction.
Because mammograms do not find every breast cancer, it is important for you to be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Imaging poses particular challenges for women with dense breasts, which make up, up to 50 percent of women in the United States. In order to be classified as having "dense breasts" a woman must have more dense tissue than fatty tissue in one or both of her breasts. Dense tissue appears white on a mammogram, as do tumors making it like looking for a snowball in a snow storm. This can make identifying breast cancer on imaging challenging as imaging relies on visual interpretation. Having dense breasts may also slightly increase a women's risk of developing breast cancer. This can cause additional anxiety and concern, with no additional solution.
This issue poses the question, how can we improve detection for women with dense breasts? Complementing the current standard-of-care imaging for women with increased breast imaging and abnormal results with blood-based approaches provides promising advances to rule out breast cancer. A blood-based approach, which is not reliant on visual interpretation alone, but is based on biochemical changes occuring in the blood stream, could help improve the accuracy of early detection for women with dense breasts.
At Provista Diagnostics, our mission is to develop world-class diagnostic tests for indications in breast and gynecologic cancers. As a leading diagnostics company, our aim is to create, produce and market innovative solutions for unmet clinical needs. Our products and services help to diagnose diseases and inform better clinical decisions, thus enhancing women’s health and quality of life. We do this in a responsible and ethical manner with a commitment to excellence in every aspect of our business.