Don’t Miss These Breast Cancer Symptoms

September 22, 2023
Don’t Miss These Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast cancer doesn't always produce symptoms, but here's how to know when to see a doctor.

Breast cancer is a concern of women of all ages, although men can get it, too. You may not know exactly what symptoms to look out for that may indicate you have the disease. But understanding the signs and symptoms makes it more likely you'll see a doctor if something doesn't look or feel right. This can help detect cancer early if you have it.

Keep in mind that breast cancer doesn't always produce noticeable symptoms. That's why it is also important to have routine breast exams and mammograms as recommended.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

All women have different breasts. Some are dense, some are lumpy and some are uneven. Even for the same person, breasts may change over time due to age, having children, losing or gaining weight, at various times during the menstrual cycle or if you take certain medications. Knowing what feels normal or abnormal to you can help you have a better idea of when something doesn't seem quite right.

Here are some symptoms you may notice if you have breast cancer:

  • Feeling a new lump in the breast or armpit
  • Swelling in part of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or thickening of the skin on the breast
  • Redness, dryness, flaking, scaling or irritation of the skin around the nipple or breast
  • Pain in the nipple area or any area of the breast
  • Nipple retraction (pulling in of the nipple)
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

Some of these symptoms may be due to factors unrelated to breast cancer. Even feeling a lump, which is the most common symptom of breast cancer, may not be a reason to panic. Many breast lumps are not cancerous. But if you notice any of these symptoms, even if you recently had a mammogram that was normal, it is recommended that you see a doctor for further evaluation.

The Importance of Breast Cancer Screenings

In addition to knowing what symptoms to look out for, one of the best ways to detect cancer at an early stage if it is present is to keep up with regular breast cancer screenings, such as mammograms and clinical breast exams. These screenings are often effective at finding breast cancer before any symptoms appear. The earlier breast cancer is caught, the better the chance of being able to successfully treat it. Talk to your doctor about what types of screenings are best for you and how often you should have them done.

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Date Last Reviewed: August 17, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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