Breast Cancer – Symptoms and Early Warning Signs

Author:

Dr. Poovamma C USenior Consultant & Director – Breast Oncology

 

What is Breast Awareness?

There is no such thing as a typical breast. What is normal for one woman may be abnormal for another. The breast keeps changing with the timing of the period, during pregnancy, lactation, losing or gaining weight, the medications you are on and during menopause.  Some breasts feel soft, whereas some women may say it’s lumpy and uneven. Hence it’s important to be aware of what your breasts look and feel like.

Symptoms of breast cancer/tumors vary from person to person.  Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.

What Do Lumps in My Breast Mean?

Not every lump in the breast is cancer. Most often a lump in the breast may not be cancer, it could a cyst (small fluid-filled sacs), fibroadenoma (non-cancerous lump in the breast). However, every newly noticed lump in the breast should be evaluated to rule out the presence of cancer. 

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

A painless lump in the breast or armpit is the most symptom of breast cancer. Other less common symptoms include skin changes, pain, a nipple that pulls inward, and unusual discharge from your nipple.

Early Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

Common symptoms of breast cancer include:

    • A lump in your breast or underarm that doesn’t go away and which is often painless. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone may indicate that the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
    • A marble/pebble-like area under your skin that feels different from any other part of either breast. A fullness, thickening or swelling in any area.
    • Pain and tenderness, although lumps don’t usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
    • Skin changes like a flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you can’t see or feel which is pulling the skin inwards.
    • Other skin changes like – redness, skin thickening, skin nodules, skin that looks like an orange peel may indicate the presence of tumor in the breast.
    • Breast changes such as a difference in the size, shape, texture, or temperature of your breast.
  • Changes in your nipple: 
    • Flat nipple/Pulled inward
    • Is dimpled
    • Burns
    • Itches
    • Develops sores
  • Unusual nipple discharge. It could be clear, bloody, or another colour.

If you experience any of these signs and symptoms of breast cancer, consult our breast cancer experts.

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