Initially, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. A lump may be too small for you to feel or to cause any unusual changes you can notice on your own. Often, an abnormal area turns up on a screening mammogram (X-ray of the breast), which leads to further testing. In some cases, however, the first sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel. A lump that is painless, hard, and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. But sometimes cancers can be tender, soft, and rounded. So it’s important to have anything unusual checked by your doctor.
Changes to check for
TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual? LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture? CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.
Can you feel a lump? Either in the breast, upper chest or armpits.
Is there a lumpy area? Or unusual thickening of the breast tissue that doesn’t go away?
Is there any unusual pain? Either in part of the breast or the armpit.
Any change in size or shape? For example, one breast might become larger or lower than the other.
Any change in skin texture? Such as puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast.
Any change in colour? For example the breast may look red or inflamed.
What about the appearance or direction of the nipple? For example, one might become inverted (turned in) when it normally points out.
Any unusual discharge? One or both nipples might have a discharge.
Any rash or crusting? Of the nipple or surrounding area.
Is anything unusual? If so, get it checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
swelling of all or part of the breast
skin irritation or dimpling
nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin