Cancer of the breast begins as a lump, occurring more often to the outside of the nipple, but may develop in any part. It may or may not be painful at first, but the skin becomes attached to it; and sooner or later the nipple is drawn in.
It is seen in women over forty, as a rule. Lumps in the breast, occurring during the nursing period, are often due to inflammation, but these generally have no relation to cancer unless they persist for a long time. Any lump which appears in the breast without apparent cause, or which persists for a considerable time after inflammation ceases, should be promptly removed by the surgeon, as without microscopic examination the most skilled practitioners will be unable absolutely to distinguish between a harmless and malignant tumor.
As even so called benign tumors often become cancerous (e. g., inflammatory lumps in the breast, warts, and moles), an eminent surgeon (Dr. Maurice Richardson) has recently formulated the rule that all tumors, wherever situated, should if possible be removed, whatever their apparent nature.
Cancer of the womb may be suspected in middle aged women if flowing is more profuse than is usual, or occurs at irregular times; if there is a discharge (often of offensive odor) from the front passage; and sometimes pain, as backache, and perhaps paleness. Early examination should be sought at the hands of a physician; it is suicidal to delay.