Every woman should know breast cancer symptoms because breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women after 50. Breast cancer develops from atypical or cancerous cells in the lining of a duct or lobule in one of the breasts.
Breast cancer types, breast cancer cells and breast cancer stages can be different – all are important to know as the treatment and survival rates vary depending on the exact type and stage of breast cancer.
Unfortunately sometimes breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. If tumor is small and not very aggressive, warning symptoms could appear very late. This is why regular mammography is recommended.
Early breast cancer detection can dramatically increase chances for full treatment and insure breast cancer survival.
Breast cancer symptoms – first signs of breast cancer
Breast cancer symptoms – Breast lump
In most cases breast lump is the first symptom women experience – usually it is a painless lump which is not changing and not disappearing during different periods of menstrual cycle. Very often breast lumps are benign but they can be also cancerous. Sometimes breast lump is seen on a screening mammogram before it can be felt. Menopausal women should be more careful in cases of breast lump appearance – they could be attached to the skin or chest wall and cannot be moved. Usually breast cancerous lump is hard, irregular in shape and very different from the rest of the breast tissue. But sometimes cancerous lumps can be tender, soft and/or rounded.
Special attention should be paid to lump in the armpit – small, hard and/or tender lumps in the armpit could be a sign that breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
It is important to highlight that in women from 20 to 50 breast lumps could appear because of hormonal fluctuations, damaged fat tissue, breast infections, breast fibroadenoma or fibrocystic breasts. According to medical statistics, 90% of breast lumps in young women (20-45) are benign.
Overweight and obese women have more problems in identifying breast lumps because lumps are usually surrounded by fat tissue.
New painless breast lump is the most common symptom of breast cancer, especially if it doesn’t go away after regular menstrual period.
The only objective breast lump clarification can be done by mammography and biopsy (if needed).
Breast cancer symptoms – Breast nipple changes
It is well known that inverted nipple can be very early symptom of breast cancer.
If you had normal nipples and suddenly one nipple became inverted, better to exclude breast cancer.
Cancer could also change one side nipple shape, size, appearance (redness, scaliness, thickening, crusted) and position. Some women notice nipple rash on one side without any logical reasons.
Special attention should be paid to discharge from nipples – spontaneous (without squeezing) dark brown or bloody discharge from one nipple could be considered as a sign of breast cancer. Crusting ulcers and/or scaling on the nipple could be a symptom of pretty rare types of breast cancer – so called “Paget disease of the nipple”.
Breast cancer symptoms – Breast pain
Breast cancer symptoms
Sharp unexpected breast pain especially combined with some breast tenderness could be scary. On-going breast pain in one breast which is not connected with your menstrual cycle or any hormonal treatments can be a breast cancer warning sign. Pain could be in only one part of breast or in armpit.
If breast pain in one breast combined with breast lump, better visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Breast cancer symptoms – Changes in breast shape or size or nodes
It is well known that breast tenderness (both sides) and breast changes (both sides) usually depend on hormonal fluctuation (during menstrual cycle, during hormonal treatments or during hormonal contraception). But one side breast changes in the size or shape could be considered as a warning sign (especially combined with swelling or discomfort in the armpit).
According to health experts, the first place that breast cancerous cells usually spread is lymph glands (nodes) in the armpit. If you noted something unusual like lump or changed (increased) nodes in armpit, better to visit your doctor immediately.
Breast cancer symptoms – Skin changes
During breast cancer sometimes the skin of the breast could become dimpled or puckered – typical for breast cancer so called “orange peel skin” caused by unusually enlarged pores.
One side breast redness, irritation, swelling and increased temperature (warmer breast) could be symptoms of so called “inflammatory breast cancer”.
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.