Cancer Support Group

Monday, Nov 20th

Last update:06:42:40 AM GMT

Home Cancer Breast Cancer Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

A lump or thickening in the breast or under the arm is the most common sign of breast cancer. If a mass is hard with irregular edges, it is more likely to be cancer, but cancers can also be tender and soft, with smooth edges.

Therefore, you should consult your doctor as soon as you notice any of the following changes in your breast:
  • Any discharge from the nipple.
  • Inverted nipples.
  • Wounds or scaly skin on the breast or the nipple.
  • Redness or swelling.
  • Dimpling on the breast skin resembling an orange (peu de orange).
  • A change in the shape or structure of the breast.
Symptoms of breast cancer
In early stages, breast cancer usually has no symptoms. As a tumor progresses, you may note the following signs:
  • Swelling in the armpit.
  • Pain or tenderness in the breast.
  • A lump in the breast, often the first apparent symptom of breast cancer, breast lumps are usually painless, although some may cause a prickly sensation. Lumps are usually visible on a mammogram long before they can be seen or felt.
  • A noticeable flattening or indentation on the breast which may indicate a tumor that cannot be seen or felt.
  • Any change in the contour, texture or temperature of the breast, a reddish, pitted surface like the skin of an orange (called peu de orange) is symptomatic of advanced breast cancer.
  • A change in the nipple, such as an indrawn or dimpled look, itching or burning sensation, or ulceration, scaling of the nipple is symptomatic of Paget’s disease, a localized cancer.
  • Unusual discharge from the nipple that may be clear, bloody or of another color – usually caused by benign conditions but possibly due to cancer.

The areas of the body to which breast cancer spread to
The most common sites of spread or metastasis are through the lymph nodes into the skin, lungs, liver, brain, and bones. However, it must be realized that each patient’s breast cancer behaves differently. In some cases, it remains confined to the breast for a long time, whereas in other cases, spread could be very rapid. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted without any delay as soon as you detect a lump in your breast.

Detection of Breast lumps
The easiest way to detect breast lumps is to do a breast self–examination every month. If you have regular periods, you should do a breast self–examination one week after your period. In case your periods are irregular, it is advisable to do a breast self–examination on a fixed day every month.

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