Breast Cancer Early Warning Signs and Symptoms

Despite the fact that breast cancer usually has no symptoms in its early stages, early identification may change a breast cancer narrative into a survivor’s story.

The most frequent presenting symptom is a breast lump. The wide range of symptoms for roughly 1 in 6Trusted Source women with breast cancer does not involve a lump.

We’ll look at the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer, what occurs next, and where to get help in this post.

Breast cancer warning indicators in the early stages

Breast cancer warning signs

When a person does a monthly breast inspection or has little odd soreness that doesn’t appear to go away, they may discover a change in their breast. Look for the following early indicators of breast cancer:

  • changes in the shape of the nipple
  • breast pain that doesn’t go away after your next period
  • a new lump that doesn’t go away after your next period
  • nipple discharge from one breast that’s clear, red, brown, or yellow
  • unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
  • swelling or a lump around the collarbone or under the arm

Breast cancer symptoms that appear later

The following are later indications of breast cancer:

  • an existing lump that becomes larger
  • a “orange peel” feel to the skin
  • low appetite retraction
  • inward twisting of the nipple
  • expansion of one breast
  • dimpling of the breast surface
  • an existing lump that gets bigger
  • Weight loss that is unintended
  • visible veins on the breast
  • swollen lymph nodes in the armpit

It’s not necessary to experience one or more of these symptoms to develop breast cancer. An infection, for example, might result in nipple discharge. If you see any of these signs or symptoms, see a doctor for a thorough examination.

What does it mean to have a “normal” breast?

There is no such thing as a “typical” breast, as you would expect. Every woman’s breasts are unique. As a result, when we say “normal,” we mean “normal” for you. It’s about how your breasts normally appear and feel, and what it can imply if they change.

It’s worth mentioning that breast alterations are rather typical during ovulation. This might be due to an increase in fluid retention, which can lead to:

  • Lumpiness
  • Swelling
  • Discomfort
  • Soreness

After you start your period, these symptoms should go away.

Breast self-examination

Regular self-examinations may help you learn how your breasts should appear and feel so you can spot changes early. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:

  • Breasts that are different in size, shape, or color
  • nipple inversion, unusual discharge
  • skin dimpling or bulging
  • redness, discomfort, rash, or swelling

How to do a breast self-examination

  1. With your shoulders erect and your arms on your hips, stand in front of a mirror. Examine your breasts visually.
  2. Repeat the exercise with your arms lifted.
  3. To feel your breasts, lie down on your back. Examine your left breast with your right hand. To feel for lumps or other changes, move your fingers in a circular manner with the pads of your fingers. Cover your whole breast, from the middle of your chest to your armpit, as well as your abdomen and collarbone.
  4. Check your right breast with your left hand again.
  5. Repetition may be done while standing or sitting. It could be more convenient to do this in the shower.

Is it common for breast lumps to be cancerous?

Although a lump in the breast is often linked to breast cancer, the majority of lumps aren’t malignant. In reality, benign breast illness is diagnosed in around 75% of breast biopsies, according to Trusted Source.

The following are some of the most common causes of benign breast lumps:

  • inflammation of the breasts
  • fibrocystic breast disease (sometimes known as “lumpy breasts”) is a kind of breast cancer that affects women.
  • fibroadenoma is a kind of cancer that affects the skin (noncancerous tumor)
  • necrosis of fat (damaged tissue)

Without a biopsy, fat necrosis cannot be separated from a malignant tumor.

Even though the majority of breast lumps are caused by less serious illnesses, the most prevalent sign of breast cancer is new, painless lumps.

Other causes of breast discomfort and pain

Because we commonly identify discomfort with anything wrong, when individuals experience sensitivity or pain in their breasts, they often relate it with breast cancer. Breast soreness, on the other hand, is seldom the initial indication of breast cancer. Pain may also be caused by a variety of different circumstances.

Breast discomfort, commonly known as mastalgia, may be caused by the following factors:

  • the hormonal changes brought on during menstruation
  • some contraceptive tablets
  • a few fertility therapies
  • a bra that isn’t quite right
  • cysts in the breasts
  • Breasts that are too big and cause neck, shoulder, or back discomfort
  • stress

Breast cancer types

The nature of breast cancer is divided into two categories:

  • Cancer that hasn’t spread from the source tissue is known as non-invasive (in situ) cancer. Stage 0 is what it’s called.
  • Cancer that has spread to adjacent tissues is known as invasive (infiltrating) cancer. Depending on how far it has spread, they are classified as stages 1, 2, 3, or 4. The kind of cancer is determined by the afflicted tissue. Consider the following scenario:
  • Ductal carcinoma is a cancer of the intestines. Cancer that develops in the lining of the milk ducts is known as ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer of this sort is the most frequent.
  • Lobular carcinoma is a kind of cancer that affects the lob Lobular carcinoma is a kind of breast cancer that affects the lobules. The milk is formed in the lobules.
  • Sarcoma. This is a kind of cancer that begins in the connective tissue of the breast.
  • Angiosarcoma. This kind begins in the cells that line the insides of blood vessels and lymph vessels.

Although early indications and symptoms are similar, breast cancer may be classified based on key characteristics. They are among them.

  • Breast cancer is hormone-positive. Estrogen and/or progesterone feed hormone-positive breast tumors.
  • Breast cancer that is HER2-positive. The human epidermal growth factor (HEGF) is a naturally occurring protein that promotes the proliferation of breast cancer cells. It’s known as HER2-positive cancer if it contains high amounts of this protein.
  • Breast cancer is triple-negative. Estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2 are all negative in triple-negative breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer with papillary cells. Papillary breast cancer contains little, finger-like growths called papules that may be seen under a microscope. Both invasive and noninvasive cells may be found in it.
  • Breast cancer is metaplastic. Metaplastic breast cancer may comprise aberrant ductal cells as well as cells that aren’t normally seen there, such as skin or bone cells. The majority of the time, it’s triple-negative.

Other than a breast lump, several kinds of breast cancer are more likely to show symptoms. Consider the following scenario:

  • Breast cancer is inflammatory. Cancer cells in the breast surface restrict lymph arteries in inflammatory breast cancer. The term comes from the fact that the breasts seem swollen, red, and inflamed.
  • Paget’s disease is a kind of breast cancer. The skin of the nipple and areola develops Paget’s disease. The affected region may seem red, crusty, or scaly. There may be blood or yellow discharge, and the nipple may flatten or invert. Other signs and symptoms include a burning sensation or itching.
  • Breast cancer that has spread throughout the body and has spread to other regions of the body is known as metastatic breast cancer. Breast cancer that has progressed to stage 4 is also known as advanced or stage 4 breast cancer. Weight loss, unexplained discomfort, and weariness are all possible symptoms.

Breast cancer in men

Breast cancer isn’t usually linked to those who were born with a male gender assignment. Male breast cancer, on the other hand, may strike at any age, but it is more frequent in older males.

Men Breast Cancer
Men Breast Cancer

Many individuals are unaware that everyone has breast cells, and that these cells may alter and become malignant. Breast cancer is less prevalent in men than in women because male breast cells are less developed than female breast cells.

A lump in the breast tissue is the most prevalent symptom of breast cancer in persons who were born male. Male breast cancer symptoms include: In addition to a lump, male breast cancer symptoms include:

  • swollen lymph nodes under the arm
  • thickening of breast tissue
  • nipple discharge
  • redness or scaling of the nipple
  • a nipple that retracts or twists inward
  • unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itching, or rash on the breast

Male breast cancer is often identified at a later stage because men may not routinely inspect their breast tissue for indicators of tumors.

Breast cancer diagnosis

When you go to the doctor with concerns about breast discomfort, soreness, or a lump, they will likely run a series of tests.

Examination of the body

Your doctor will inspect your breasts and breast skin, as well as look for nipple issues and discharge. They may also use their hands to feel your breasts and armpits for lumps.

Previous medical history

Your doctor will inquire about your medical history, including any drugs you may be taking, as well as close family members’ medical histories.

Because breast cancer is occasionally linked to your genes, it’s crucial to inform your doctor if you have a family history of the disease. Your doctor will also inquire about your symptoms, as well as when you first became aware of them.


Mammography, or X-ray of the breast, may be ordered by your doctor to assist differentiate between a benign and cancerous lump.


A picture of breast tissue may be created using ultrasonic sound waves.


Your doctor may recommend an MRI in addition to another testing. Another noninvasive imaging technique for examining breast tissue is this one.


This procedure involves extracting a tiny sample of breast tissue for examination. This is the only technique to confirm a breast cancer diagnosis.

Find out more about breast cancer screenings.

Breast cancer treatment

Treatments differ depending on the kind and stage of cancer. However, there are a few popular strategies used by physicians and experts to battle breast cancer:

  • A lumpectomy is when your doctor removes a tumor from your breast while leaving the rest of it intact.
  • A mastectomy is a surgical procedure in which your doctor removes all of your breast tissue, including the tumor and connective tissue, from your body.
  • Chemotherapy, or the use of anticancer medications, is the most prevalent cancer treatment. The capacity of cells to replicate is harmed by these medications.
  • Radiation is a treatment method that employs radiation beams to directly cure cancer.
  • When hormones or HER2 play a role in cancer growth, hormone and targeted treatment may be employed.

Breast cancer recurrence signs and symptoms

Breast cancer may recur after first therapy, even if it was successfully treated the first time. This is referred to as recurrence. When a tiny percentage of cells survive the first therapy, recurrence occurs.

A recurrence in the same location as the initial breast cancer has symptoms that are quite similar to those of the first breast cancer. They are as follows:

  • a new breast lump
  • a new thickening along the mastectomy scar
  • changes to the nipple
  • redness or swelling of the breast

If breast cancer returns regionally, it suggests cancer has returned to the lymph nodes or a location close to but not identical to the initial tumor. The signs and symptoms may vary somewhat.

Prognosis and prevention of breast cancer

Early discovery and therapy, like with any cancer, are critical in deciding the result. When breast cancer is diagnosed early on, it is typically treatable and curable.

According to the World Health Organization Trusted Source, breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women. It’s important to keep aware of breast cancer risk factors and warning symptoms, whether you’re worried about breast discomfort or tenderness.

Early detection is the most effective strategy to combat breast cancer. Discuss when you should begin breast cancer screening with your doctor.

Make an appointment with your doctor right away if you’re concerned that your breast discomfort or tenderness is anything more severe. Consult your doctor if you discover a lump in your breast (even if your most recent mammography was normal).

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