Dr. Gary says palpable lumps in young people with breasts are one of the more commonly missed or disregarded symptoms because they’re often mistaken for fibrocystic breast changes, the non-cancerous changes that give a breast a lumpy or ropelike texture, typically from hormonal changes that happen during a person’s period. This is extremely common, affecting approximately 50% of people who menstruate between the ages of 20 and 50, per the Cleveland Clinic.“This can make self and clinical exams challenging because you might think a new lump represents a cyst or normal change in the breast tissue,” Dr. Flanagan says. If an existing lump does not go away after your next period, get it checked out.3. Changes in breast shape and contourNaturally, your breast shape will change over time. After all, your breasts at 20 are not what you see at 50 (thanks, gravity!), especially if you’ve been pregnant or nursed a baby.That said, it’s time to talk to a doctor when those changes seem to have happened quickly and don’t seem to be associated with your menstrual cycle, significant weight gain or loss, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. For example, Dr. Gary says changes in the contour of the breast, such as dimpling, could be an early sign of breast cancer. Also key to note, per the American Cancer Society, is thickening or swelling of the breast, even if you do not feel a lump. Dr. Gary says these changes may become more apparent as cancers grow inside the tissues.4. Nipple changes or dischargeAnother early sign of breast cancer can include certain changes to your nipples, such as nipples that turn inward, pull to one side, dimple, or change direction, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Inflammation around the nipple, scaly skin, crusting, and itchiness or a burning sensation also warrant a convo with your doctor.Abnormal nipple discharge is another thing worth paying attention to. If you’ve been pregnant, you’re likely familiar with fluids dripping out of your nipples (hello, colostrum and breast milk). But discharge that is new and not obviously related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, or another medical reason is a potential cause for concern, especially if it is “abnormal,” meaning it’s bloody, leaking from only one nipple, or comes out on its own without any squeezing.5. Skin inflammation, discoloration, or swellingWhile not as common as other early breast cancer signs, new onset of breast discoloration, thickening of the breast skin, swelling that affects more than a third of the breast, or swollen lymph nodes near the underarm can be associated with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a rare and “very” aggressive form of the disease that is often mistaken as an infection, per the National Cancer Institute. Dr. O’Neill says you may also notice a change in the texture of the breast under the skin.With IBC, the discoloration can appear pink, red, reddish-purple, or bruised, depending on your skin tone. This is important to note because inflammatory breast cancer is often just associated with “redness”—even though the disease disproportionately impacts Black people, who may not as easily notice discoloration compared to those who have lighter skin.2,36. Breast pain or heavinessAlthough most breast cancers do not cause pain, it is possible. Dr. Flanagan says feeling breast pain and heaviness are potential early symptoms—and often get overlooked or ignored. “Unilateral, new onset breast pain [in one specific spot] should be evaluated by a health care professional, and imaging should be completed to rule out breast cancer,” she says. If the pain is severe or persists, the American Cancer Society recommends getting it checked out. This type of pain is often associated with inflammatory breast cancer, which can also cause tenderness, aching, and heaviness in the breast, in addition to the inflammation, swelling, and thickening mentioned above.How to check your breasts for early signs of cancerKnowing the symptoms is just one part of the prevention puzzle. You should also examine your breasts frequently—and just be really aware of what “normal” looks and feels like for your own body. Here are some expert-backed tips to help you get started.Get up close and personal with your breasts.That “normal” we’re talking about has a name, Dr. Gary says: Think of it as “breast self-awareness.” It involves knowing the ins and outs of your breasts both before and during your period, a time when your hormones are in flux. It also means becoming familiar with asymmetry that might be normal for you, such as breast size differences or nipple placement. “I tell my patients their breasts are twins but seldom identical,” Dr. Gary says.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jonathan Bennett reminded his social media followers that sometimes cis men need mammograms too. The 41-year-old Mean Girls actor shared footage from his recent screening on Instagram last week.“I’m showing you what it’s like to get a mammogram,” Bennett, 41, said in the video. “After my husband had a scare a few years ago, and with cancer running in both of our families, screenings are important to us.”In the video, he gets scanned from multiple angles, and then he’s dismissed to go outside and eat a cupcake. “After a few different positions and X-rays, that’s it! The radiologist checks my images, and I’m done,” he said. (Bennett, who lost his father to cancer, according to an interview with The Knot, said in his post that he’s partnering with an organization raising money for the Ellie Fund, which provides services to breast cancer patients.)Instagram contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.While breast cancer mostly affects women, about 1 in every 100 diagnoses occurs in men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 2,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men will be diagnosed this year, and 530 men will die from the disease.Possible symptoms of breast cancer in men can include a lump, swelling, nipple retraction (when the nipple turns inward), nipple discharge, redness (depending on your skin tone), and scaling of the skin, per the ACS. The changes can occur directly in the breasts or in nearby areas, such as around the collarbone. Of course, these symptoms aren’t always an immediate sign of breast cancer, but it’s best to see a health care provider if you notice any of these changes in your general chest area (especially if they’re new or persistent).Family history is just one risk factor for breast cancer in men. Others include older age (most men are diagnosed after age 50), certain genetic mutations, and certain underlying health conditions, including liver disease, per the CDC. According to the ACS, Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than white men.If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, the CDC says you should have a conversation with your doctor about which screenings are right for you and how often you should get them—and Bennett echoed that recommendation in his video. He encouraged his followers to be proactive about their health and to “talk to your doctor about what’s right for you,” regardless of gender.Related:
She suddenly had flashbacks to the moments she’d been told about family members’ cancer diagnoses, including her first husband, Jay Monahan, who died in 1998 at the age of 42. “The heart-stopping, suspended animation feeling I remember all too well came flooding back,” Couric wrote. “Jay’s colon cancer diagnosis at 41 and the terrifying, gutting nine months that followed. My sister Emily’s pancreatic cancer, which would later kill her at 54, just as her political career was really taking off. My mother-in-law Carol’s ovarian cancer, which she was fighting as she buried her son, a year and nine months before she herself was laid to rest.”Couric waited to tell her two daughters about the diagnosis until she had a better understanding of her illness and prognosis. “Finally, four days after I was diagnosed, I FaceTimed each of them,” she wrote. “Their faces froze in disbelief. Then shock…They’d already lost one parent. The idea of losing another was unfathomable.”Fortunately, Couric was told that her tumor was “highly treatable.” A lumpectomy—during which cancer or other abnormal tissue is removed from the breast—was scheduled; Couric’s medical team also recommended radiation and medication. Following the procedure, Couric received some good news: “The pathology came back a few weeks later. Thankfully, my lymph nodes were clean…I’d later learn my Oncotype—which measures the likelihood of your cancer returning—was 19, considered low enough to forgo chemotherapy.”She started radiation on September 7, just under three months after her diagnosis. Her gratitude for the medical care and support she received eventually grew into frustration, though. “Throughout the process, I kept thinking about…How lucky I was to have access to such incredible care, since so many people don’t…It made me feel grateful and guilty—and angry that there’s a de facto caste system when it comes to health care in America.”Couric said she also grew increasingly angry that screenings for people with dense breasts—like the ultrasound that alerted Couric’s doctor to her tumor—are frequently out of reach. “Far too many women are not benefiting from a technology that will allow their breast cancer to be diagnosed early, when it’s most treatable.”Ultimately, Couric hopes that sharing her cancer story serves as a crucial reminder: to advocate for your health, schedule preventive screenings if you have access to them, and ask questions if you’re unsure of what’s recommended for you. “Please get your annual mammogram,” she wrote. “I was six months late this time. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put it off longer. But just as importantly, please find out if you need additional screening.”Related:
On October 3, 2018, one month after my 43rd birthday, I got the most shocking news of my life: I had ovarian cancer. After a week of unexplained stomach pains, I went to urgent care, and they sent me for a CT scan. The results revealed masses on both ovaries, fluid in my abdomen, and signs of cancer in lymph nodes in my pelvis and abdomen as well. I ultimately landed in the E.R. and was hospitalized for a week. During this time I received a laparoscopic biopsy that confirmed a diagnosis of stage 3 ovarian cancer, had a port for chemotherapy implanted, and started chemo.Six months of treatment followed, including nine weeks of chemo and major debulking (tumor-removal) surgery that involved a total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removing both ovaries and fallopian tubes). This was in addition to the removal of my appendix because the cancer had spread there, and then nine more weeks of chemo. I completed my treatment in April 2019 and am now cancer-free.Even though I’m single and I live by myself, I didn’t have to worry about getting through this alone. A huge community rallied around me to lend their support. Friends, family members, neighbors, and even virtual strangers came through for me in every way possible, from going to chemo appointments with me to being in touch by phone, text, and social media with encouragement and offers to help and sending me gifts—lots of gifts.It can be hard to know what will actually be a useful gift for someone going through cancer treatment. When I was first diagnosed, even I didn’t know what I needed when someone asked what they could do or get for me. But so many people came up with incredibly thoughtful, meaningful, and truly helpful chemotherapy gifts that helped me get through my treatment feeling organized, well-fed, comfy, warm, informed, and very loved.If you want to get something for a friend or family member with cancer but don’t know where to begin, here are a few of my favorite gifts I received while I was going through cancer treatment. Hopefully, they provide some inspiration for anyone in search of the best gifts for people with cancer.All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Three batches of a Banana Boat sunscreen have been voluntarily recalled because they contain trace levels of a carcinogen called benzene, according to a statement from Edgewell Personal Care, the makers of Banana Boat products. The product is called Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 and is packaged in an aerosol can. Benzene is a chemical created through both human activities (such as secondhand tobacco smoke and industrial emissions) and natural processes (such as forest fires), per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).Benzene was detected in the product during internal testing, per Edgewell’s statement. Benzene isn’t an ingredient in the sunscreen product, and it is believed that the benzene detected during testing came from the propellant that dispels the sunscreen from its container, per the statement.The recalled products, which were distributed nationwide, were all packaged in six-ounce cans and include the following data on the label:Universal product code (UPC): 0-79656-04041-8; lot code: 20016AF; expiration: December 2022Universal product code (UPC): 0-79656-04041-8; lot code: 20084BF; expiration: February 2023Universal product code (UPC): 0-79656-04041-8; lot code: 21139AF; expiration: April 2024If you have one of the affected cans, you should stop using it and discard the product immediately, per the statement. Edgewell said it had notified retailers to remove any recalled products from shelves, and Banana Boat is offering reimbursement to people who purchased a recalled can. (You can call 1-888-686-3988 or visit this website to receive a reimbursement.)This isn’t the first time a sunscreen product has been recalled over benzene concerns; last year, several Johnson & Johnson products, including some Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreens, were recalled after testing revealed the presence of the chemical, SELF previously reported.People can be exposed to benzene via inhalation, orally, or through the skin, and it can potentially lead to certain cancers and blood disorders, per the NCI. While exposure to the recalled products isn’t thought to be harmful, people should contact a health care provider if they experience “any problems related to using these aerosol sunscreen products,” Edgewell’s statement said.If you do experience an adverse reaction to the recalled product, you can report it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program online.Related:
In OK! magazine, Parker explained that he experienced “bizarre and unexplained seizures” for weeks over the summer. After three days of testing, Parker said, “They pulled the curtain around my bed and said, ‘It’s a brain tumor.’ All I could think was, F**king hell! I was in shock. It’s stage IV glioblastoma and they’ve said it’s terminal.” Parker underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment and at the time, told the magazine, “I still haven’t processed it.” Kelsey understandably struggled to process the diagnosis. “Watching your partner go through this is so hard, because how can I tell him not to let it consume him?” she told OK! at the time.The Wanted’s other band members—Jay McGuiness, Siva Kaneswaran, Max George, and Nathan Sykes—helped support the couple since the diagnosis. “They are gutted by the news, but they’ve been incredibly supportive. Jay has been round to see us a few times since we got the news and is reading up on everything he can, and Max was here last week,” Parker said. “Siva and Nathan obviously live a lot further away, but all four of the boys have been texting regularly and sending through different articles and possible treatments and therapies that they’re all reading about.”“We don’t want your sadness, we just want love and positivity,” the singer explained. According to the National Cancer Institute, glioblastoma is the most common type of brain cancer in people 18 and older. Around 14,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. It’s typically aggressive and spreads quickly, though it rarely spreads outside the brain. It’s most common in active, otherwise healthy men like Parker, although the average age of diagnosis is 64, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.In addition to seizures like the ones Parker experienced, other glioblastoma symptoms include headache, memory problems, weakness on one side of the body, difficulty thinking and speaking, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms typically present quickly, as if out of nowhere, though they can sometimes be more gradual, the National Cancer Institute says.While there isn’t a cure, experts have made progress in life expectancy, which used to hover around 8–10 months on average in the 1990s and is now closer to 15–18 months, according to the National Cancer Institute. And while nearly no glioblastoma patients survived for five years post-diagnosis in the ’90s, around 15% of patients now live to five years after diagnosis. There are few known causes for glioblastoma, though previous radiation treatment to the central nervous system or head can be a factor, the National Cancer Institute says. Genetic syndromes can also cause glioblastoma in rare cases, per the National Institute of Health’s Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.In some patients, the first-line course of treatment is surgery, though Parker has made clear that wasn’t an option for his case. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, glioblastomas typically have “finger-like tentacles that infiltrate the brain,” making it hard to completely remove them during surgery. Afterward, radiation and chemotherapy are standard treatments. Even in surgery cases with good results, glioblastoma will essentially always recur because small fragments of cancer are often left behind. “We have had so many people reach out with positive stories and it’s been incredible,” Parker wrote after an outpouring of love followed his initial diagnosis. “Thanks to everyone behind us fighting alongside us,” he wrote.Related:
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, the latter nation’s health system has understandably struggled to remain adequately staffed, to keep vital supplies stocked, and to ensure the safety of patients. Fortunately, some of Ukraine’s most vulnerable patients have found safety in the U.S. this week. Four Ukrainian children with cancer arrived at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis on Wednesday. The children traveled with their families from Krakow, Poland, aboard medical transport aircraft operated by the U.S. government. Some of the children, aged between one to eight years old, were clutching their stuffed toys when they arrived.As of March 22, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed 64 attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine between February 24 and March 21. These have sadly resulted in 15 fatalities and 37 injuries. The WHO has publicly condemned this cruelty. “Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law, but a disturbingly common tactic of war—they destroy critical infrastructure, but worse, they destroy hope,” said Jarno Habicht, MD, a WHO representative in Ukraine. “They deprive already vulnerable people of care that is often the difference between life and death. Health care is not—and should never be—a target.”According to a statement from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, it is the first hospital in the U.S. to take in patients from Ukraine. The families will also be settled into nearby housing as the young patients continue their cancer treatments at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; they will also receive trauma-informed psychosocial therapy. The hospital is also currently drawing up a school curriculum for the children and the siblings who have joined them. “The work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Ukraine reflects the hospital’s ongoing commitment to ensure children with cancer have access to lifesaving care, no matter where they live,” St. Jude President and CEO James R. Downing, MD, said in a statement. “Our promise to children with catastrophic diseases extends around the globe, and we are honored to play a part in helping these families move to safety to continue their children’s treatment,” Dr. Downing said. The hospital’s efforts are part of its wider program, St. Jude Global, which was conceived to increase the chance of survival for children fighting cancer and other serious diseases around the world.The hospital’s latest humanitarian program, SAFER Ukraine (Supporting Action For Emergency Response), is working collaboratively with Fundacja Herosi in Poland, the Tabletochki Charity Foundation in Ukraine, and a network of other foundations and international organizations, to swiftly and safely relocate children with cancer from the crisis zone and to provide them with the access to the medical care they so crucially need. “As we witness desperately ill children fleeing their homelands in terror, gripping the hands of their mothers, and carrying their diseases with them, we renew our vow to embrace and protect the lives of these helpless children, with the full power of our medical expertise and the unyielding compassion of our hearts,” said St. Jude National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas. So far, the initiative has assisted more than 600 patients.Related:
In sad news, Jane Marczewski, who went by the stage name Nightbirde, died on Saturday after four years of living with breast cancer. The Ohio-based singer was a contestant on America’s Got Talent on the most recent season, Season 16, finding fame when she was awarded judge Simon Cowell’s Golden Buzzer. She was just 31 years old. Her family made the announcement on her Twitter account, writing: “Those who knew her, enjoyed her larger-than-life personality and sense of humor. She had a witty joke for every occasion—even if the joke was on her.” The family also encouraged fans to donate to their newly established Nightbirde Memorial Fund, rather than send flowers. “We are raising funds in honor of Jane in order to create a memorial foundation to donate to cancer research & give grants/support to those who may be unable to afford the treatment they need,” her family wrote on a GoFundMe page. So far, they have raised nearly $23,000 of their $500,000 goal.In June 2021, Nightbirde earned both a standing ovation and the Golden Buzzer on America’s Got Talent when she auditioned with her original song: “It’s Okay.” A YouTube video of her audition has garnered more than 41 million views at press time. In August 2021, she was forced to withdraw from the talent show after her cancer symptoms worsened. “My health has taken a turn for the worse and the fight with cancer is demanding all of my energy and attention. I am so sad to announce that I won’t be able to continue forward on this season of AGT. Life doesn’t always give breaks to those that deserve it—but we knew that already,” the singer shared in an emotional post on Instagram. After she bowed out of the competition, she appeared on the show via video link, saying: “I cannot say thank you enough for the opportunity to have a moment to share my story, and, I think, we’re witnessing such a beautiful picture of the human spirit and the triumph of the human spirit.”The singer was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. After it went into remission, the cancer returned in a metastatic state, meaning it had spread to a different part of the body. In Nightbirde’s case, it unfortunately spread to her lungs, spine, and liver. In 2021, an estimated 281,550 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with breast cancer, with 6% of these cases being metastatic when they were first diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women, causing 43,600 deaths each year. Metastatic breast cancer causes the majority of those deaths.Since her passing on Saturday, the tributes have flowed. America’s Got Talent judge Simon Cowell tweeted: “Heart breaking news to hear about @_nightbirde, she was an extraordinary person, so brave, so talented. She made a huge impact on AGT and the world. Her determination to fight this terrible illness was remarkable.” The show also issued a touching tribute, tweeting: “Your voice, your story, and your message touched millions. Nightbirde will always be a member of the AGT family. Rest In Peace, Jane.”Related
Kathy Griffin appears to be having the time of her life celebrating her recovery from lung cancer. In a sun-drenched video the Search Party star shared on social media, she’s taking in a glorious ocean view from the calm waters of an infinity pool. Oh, and she’s nude. Alongside this clip, the comedian shared some exciting news: “6 month lung cancer scan is CLEAN!!! No more #cancer,” she wrote on Instagram and Twitter. “And yes, i’m skinny dipping in the pool while shaking my boobs and butt. SO WHAT?” The joyful video, viewed nearly 700,000 times across her social media accounts at press time, received a stream of encouraging comments from actors including Adam Devine, Debra Messing, and Ben Stiller. Some of her fans also took to the comments section to share the various ways in which they celebrated being cancer-free, with some of them also including a bit of nudity. We get it, being cancer-free is liberating. Being nude? Also very liberating.Instagram contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.The 61-year-old comedian and actor revealed back in August that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. “I’ve got to tell you guys something. I have cancer. I’m about to go into surgery to have half of my left lung removed,” Griffin said on Twitter. “Yes, I have lung cancer even though I’ve never smoked! The doctors are very optimistic as it is stage one and contained to my left lung. Hopefully no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing.” It makes sense that Griffin would bring smoking into the conversation. According to the Mayo Clinic, smoking causes the majority of lung cancer cases, a fact that has been observed in both smokers and in people who have been exposed to secondhand smoke. Those who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer or to die from lung cancer than those who do not smoke at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the CDC has also found that between 10% to 20% of lung cancer cases, or 20,000 to 40,000 each year, occur in nonsmokers. Which was the case for Griffin.Griffin first announced that her cancer had gone into remission in November 2021 during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Since having surgery to remove half of one of her lungs, she has shared regular public updates of her journey, including her first coastal walks after the operation as well as updates that her voice had become “really hoarse” as a result of the surgery. “It will heal, but I’m sort of enjoying it. I’m a good two octaves higher, I think,” she said at the time. “It’s higher than Mariah Carey, I know that.”Related:
In 2022, there will be approximately 1.9 million new cancer cases in the United States, as well as 609,360 deaths caused by cancer. Given these figures, it’s a fitting time for the Biden administration to revive Cancer Moonshot, a cancer-fighting program that originated during the Obama administration.Speaking from the White House today, President Joe Biden said that defeating cancer was high on his list. “Let there be no doubt, this is a presidential White House priority, period,” said Biden. Moonshot aims to cut cancer deaths by at least 50% by 2047, improve the experiences of people who are dealing with cancer, fast-track scientific research, and improve the sharing of cancer-related data. A new Cancer Cabinet comprising 18 federal departments, offices, and agencies has been formed to support the bipartisan program.During his speech, Biden also called upon Americans to remember to complete their routine cancer screenings, referencing the fact that more than 9 million cancer screenings were skipped during the pandemic. The president was also joined by Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. For both Biden and Harris, Moonshot is personal. In 2009, Harris lost her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, to colon cancer, and in 2015, Biden lost his 46-year-old son, Beau, to brain cancer.The $400 million to fund the program throughout 2022 and 2023 is a continuation of the $1.8 billion authorized after Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016. This amount was allocated to fund Moonshot over a seven-year period. As then vice president, Biden oversaw the project. But why revitalize the program now? According to a senior administration official, Moonshot is being relaunched “because a lot has changed that makes it possible to set really ambitious goals right now” and “the scientific advances that we saw from the COVID-19 pandemic, from the response to it, also points to things that are possible today.” Over the past few years, messenger RNA (mRNA)—in cells, mRNA utilizes genetic information to form instructions for making proteins—has been highlighted during the global move to vaccinate billions of people against COVID-19. As scientists at Pfizer and Moderna used the expertise gained from formulating mRNA cancer vaccines to form the new COVID vaccines, there has been discussion on whether the success of the COVID vaccines might support a push for mRNA-based cancer treatment, according to the National Cancer Institute.Cancer Moonshot also seeks to unite the wider community of scientific investigators and clinicians focused on supporting research initiatives, including developing new cancer technologies to better detect tumors, creating detailed 3D maps of tumors at each stage of growth, and designing a “national ecosystem” for collaborating cancer data.Related: