Symptoms of Breast Cancer You Should Know

Breast cancer symptoms can vary widely — from lumps to swelling to skin changes — and many breast cancers have no obvious symptoms at all. In some cases, a tumor may be too small to be felt, but an abnormality can still be seen on a mammogram. Here are some of the more common symptoms of breast cancer:

A lump in the breast or underarm: This is often the first noticeable symptom of breast cancer. Lumps are usually painless, although some may cause a prickly sensation. Lumps are also more likely to be cancerous if they do not move around within the breast.

Change in size, shape, or appearance of a breast: This may include unexplained size changes or differences between one breast and the other.

Changes to the skin over the breast: Breast cancer can lead to changes in skin texture such as puckering, dimpling, a rash, or redness of the skin of the breast.

Changes in the appearance of the nipple: This can include the nipple turning inward or changes in its shape, size, or color.

Nipple discharge: Discharge from your nipple, which may be clear, bloody, or another color, is often caused by benign conditions but can sometimes be due to breast cancer.

Pain in the breast: Although breast cancers are often painless, it is important to consult a doctor for any new, persistent pain areas.

Screening and Diagnosis

Because some forms of breast cancer show no symptoms in the initial stages, regular breast cancer screening is crucial. Screening tests can include mammograms, clinical breast exams, and other methods like MRIs for high-risk patients. Early detection through screening often allows for more treatment options and can reduce the risk of fatality from breast cancer.

When to See a Doctor

It's important to consult a healthcare provider if you notice any new or unusual changes in your breasts. Changes to look out for include:

Any new lump in the breast or underarm area.

Changes in the skin of the breast or nipple.

Nipple discharge other than breast milk, especially if it's bloody.

Breast changes can happen for many reasons, and most can be benign or not cancerous. However, you should get any new breast change checked by a health professional who can decide if further testing or treatment is needed.