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Breast Cancer Symptoms?

Posted by


I’m 40 years old this year and female. My periods have always been normal and I get slight breast tenderness and enlargement around 5 days before each period. This has always been the case.

However, for my last two periods my left breast had become very tender and slightly larger in size two whole weeks before my period. It did subside after my period but I do find it strange that after 25 years of not doing this, it’s suddenly started bahaving differently. Should I be worried? My right breast is the same as it’s always been. If it was hormonal, surely both breast would react the same? 

I’m not on any kind of medication or have any medical conditions or history of such. I’ve only had a few breast cysts but those have been in my right breast and I understand they are normal and common.

I am worried that my left breast, while it seems cyclical related, may be acting this way due to something underlying that is making it more sensitive to changes. Apart from now being slightly bigger, I have no redness, no dumpling, no discharge, no rash or sudden prolonged pain. I have no lumps that o can feel either. It’s just very tender over 3/4 of it (upper, outer and lower parts), and it is bigger (like water retention but not swollen feeling like an infection). It stays like this for around 18 days (from two weeks before my period, then subsiding shortly after my period has started). 

We are currently in America and will be for a while before returning to the UK. I do not have a doctor at the moment in America and I am worried about suggestions of mammograms etc as I do not want unnecessary radiation or biopsies and I know that many doctors in the US run a lot of tests on patients whether necessary or not. I’m looking for some reassurance please or if you feel I need to see someone, what the best approach may be (for example, would an ultrasound be sufficient?)

Please help. I feel extremely worried. Many thanks.

Ellen M-Macmillan
Posted by

Hi ,

Thanks for getting in touch with us and welcome to our Online Community.

It’s understandable why you’re feeling extremely worried about the breast symptoms that you’re having. It can be difficult enough to know what to do when you live in the UK, so I can’t imagine how you must be feeling when you’re currently living in America.

Unfortunately, as nurses on this type of platform we can’t give you the reassurance that you’re looking for as we can’t diagnose the cause of your symptoms.

We always advice that anyone who has new, persistent or worsening symptoms that they are seen by a doctor so that they can be properly assessed.

We also can’t say whether an ultrasound would be a sufficient test to help to get you a diagnosis, only a doctor after examining your breasts and listening to your medical history would be able to answer that question.

Here in the UK NICE have these guidelines to help doctors decide when someone should be referred to a breast clinic.

For peace of mind and to help with the worry that you're exoeriencing why don’t you make an appointment to see a doctor in the first instance so that your breasts can be examined. They may be able to reassure you and might not even recommend further tests. But if they do you it’s okay to question why and to explain your reluctance to have a mammogram. They may be willing to do an ultrasound test, but that decision must be made between yourself and a doctor.

Best wishes and take care.

Ellen-Macmillan Online Digital Nurse Specialist.

Posted by

Thank you very much for your help, it’s much appreciated.

Best wishes,