Breast cancer is incredibly common and occurs most often in women. Although not everyone experiences the same breast cancer symptoms, the following are some tell-tale signs that it might be present.
The first sign of breast cancer is the most noticeable and is easy to detect with a simple self-exam…
1. A lump or lumps in the breast
A breast lump is usually the first sign of breast cancer. These lumps can emerge in any area of the breast and vary in size. For some people, breast lumps feel like a solid or squishy mass, while for others, they can feel downright painful.
The next symptom is also noticeable to the naked eye…
2. Redness and/or discoloration
If your breast suddenly becomes red or has a bruised color without any recent injury, there is a possibility that it is inflammatory breast cancer.
Specifically, if the discoloration is noticeably red, and no itching or discomfort accompany it, you should talk to your doctor about the symptoms.
Some people might experience bodily discharges if they have breast cancer…
3. Nipple discharge
Nipple discharge occurs when fluid excretes through the nipple, and it is another common, noticeable sign of breast cancer. Nipple discharge can look and smell differently for everyone, but in some cases, it can have a greenish color or even be bloody.
This next symptom might be more painful than the rest on our list…
4. Pain or burning
Breast pain is a common breast cancer symptom, and sometimes it is brought on by something as normal as hormonal changes. If you experience breast pain for longer than a week, though, you should call your doctor, as it can be one of many early breast cancer signs. They might schedule a mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI to see if there are any signs of cancer.
A common indicator that pain might be cancer-related is if it occurs for several months or if it is continuous after more than one to two weeks, just like the next symptom explains…
5. Swollen or partially swollen breasts
Like the last two symptoms, this one might be mistaken for hormonal changes because it is a common symptom to have in otherwise healthy individuals. Because this symptom is so common among healthy and sick individuals, your doctor may not initially call for any breast-examining tests right away, unless you are an at-risk patient. If you are concerned that you are an at-risk patient, ask for a test like a mammogram or an ultrasound.
The next symptom might also be cause for concern…
6. Changes in skin texture
Changes in breast texture are a noticeable sign of pre-developed cancer. This change mostly translates to skin suddenly becoming rougher or flaking off the breast and/or nipple, and it can be likened to a breast cancer rash.
This symptom is usually accompanied by redness, discoloration, swelling, or pain around the nipple. Other people might additionally notice pimples on or around the nipple.
The next symptom also has something to do with the appearance of your breast…
7. Nipple retraction
As the name suggests, this symptom is when your nipples retreat into your body. While not a common cancer symptom, it is one of the most noticeable. Retracting nipples are not an automatic sign of breast cancer; menopause and aging can also cause this symptom. Still, you should talk to your doctor about the symptom if you notice it.
You might also notice the following change in appearance…
8. Dimples in the breasts
It’s easy to confuse dimples with changes in breast texture, and the size of the dimples can range from only a centimeter in size to a majority of the breast, which makes this symptom hard to detect.
Usually, this symptom is a result of two conditions: fat necrosis (the breast tissue is dying, usually as a result of surgery or injury) or breast cancer. If the cause is cancer, it is normal to see other symptoms like discoloration and/or swelling before your breast starts to dimple, although this is not always the case.
If you notice swelling, it might be another symptom of breast cancer…
9. Swollen lymph nodes
Swollen lymph nodes are incredibly noticeable, even if you do not regularly do breast exams.
The lymph nodes that become swollen from breast cancer are often found in and around the armpit or even the breast itself. You might not notice them normally, but when they become swollen, they can feel like small lumps that may cause a warm or burning sensation, or even a dull ache or sharp pain.
The final symptom can occur over a long or short period of time…
10. Changes in breast shape
It’s not just the size of your breasts that may change with cancer, but also their shape. Changes in breast shape may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms like discoloration or pain.
Now, changes in breast shape may be the result of either swelling, the presence of lumps, or enlarged lymph nodes. While not exclusively a sign of cancer, a change in breast shape—especially when accompanied by other tell-tale cancer symptoms—is a good indication that it’s time to contact a doctor.