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Breast Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t Lumps

You Have Breast Or Nipple Pain

6 Symptoms of Breast Cancer That Arent a Lump

Since breast cancer causes changes in yourskin cells, you may experience pain, tenderness, or discomfort in your breast, evenif there is no lump.

Often, breast cancer isnt painful, but if youdo experience pain or discomfort, dont ignore it. This is still a symptom ofbreast cancer even if less common. Some women even describe this pain as aburning sensation.

Or Your Nipples Are Leaking

Is there anything more alarming than having your breasts start squirting liquid when there’s no baby involved? “Its normal to have some leakage during pregnancy while breastfeeding, and up to a year after weaning your baby, but if you notice any discharge any other time it needs to be evaluated by a doctor,” says Dr. Patt.

Random dischargeespecially if it’s red or green or has an odormight mean you have a problem, including cancer of the breast or the pituitary gland, Dr. Patt explains.

My Breast Looked A Little Pink

In the shower one day, I noticed a pale pinkness on my breast just below my nipple area, which looked more like a mild sunburn than a rash. I knew something was off. I had my ob-gyn take a look, and he said he wasnt concerned at all because it was barely noticeable. He suggested my bra fit too snugly, and I needed to go shopping for new bras. So I did just that.

Over time, that pink area hardened slightly and was sore to the touch. My ob-gyn again said he wasnt concerned. Eventually the pain increased behind my breast in my back. My ob-gyn said that breast cancer does not hurt, so I didnt need to worry about it. He ordered a mammogram to put my mind at ease. The mammogram and all other tests came back normal.

Weeks went by and my lower back began to hurt. Eventually, after my GP suggested I had arthritis and I went to physical therapy. I went to see a breast specialist. He told me I had mastitis and gave me antibiotics. That didnt help. Back at the breast surgeon, he sent a picture of my breast to the top surgeon who ordered a diagnostic mammogram, which includes a sonogram and a biopsy. I was diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer in my breast, bones, and liver.

Jennifer Cordts, stay-at-home mom, Dallas

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Your Boobs Look Really Veiny

Being able to see your veins on the surface of your breasts depends on a lot of thingsskin color, amount of subcutaneous fat, pregnancy, geneticsbut you should be paying attention to those squiggly blue or green lines as changes in their appearance can be an early sign of breast cancer, Dr. Ross says.

Being veiny in general is nothing to be concerned about, but if youve never been able to see them before and now you can, or if theyve suddenly become much bigger, darker, or more prominent, then its time to be concerned. Visible veins can indicate the presence of a tumor as they require more blood flow and therefore more veins, she explains. Or the tumor may be blocking the blood flow, causing the veins nearby to swell.

Breast Cancer Symptoms That Arent A Lump

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Breast cancer is typically diagnosed after youfeel a lump in your breast and see your doctor for further examination, usuallya mammogram or biopsy. And while a lump is the most commonly detected symptom,its not the only warning sign. Breast cancer can cause other visible symptomseven if you havent felt a lump.

You may not notice any symptoms at all when inits earlier stages, which is why doctors recommend regular mammograms. Todaysdiagnostic technology can detect breast cancer before you feel a lump, and aswith all cancers, the earlier the diagnosis the greater your chances ofreceiving effective treatments.

Here are nine other breast cancer symptoms tobe aware of while maintaining routine mammogram checks.

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Breast Lumps Or Lumpiness

Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.

Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.

If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then its likely normal breast tissue.

Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition, such as a cyst or fibroadenoma.

See a health care provider if you:

  • Find a new lump that feels different from the rest of your breast
  • Find a new lump that feels different from your other breast
  • Feel something thats different from what you felt before

If youve had a benign lump in the past, dont assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but its best to make sure.

You Cant Stop Itching Your Nipples

Sometimes the girls just need a good scratch, especially if youre wearing a bra edged with lace or sequins. But if your nips are constantly itchy theres a good possibility something else is up and you need to get them checked, Dr. Patt says.

Many things can cause itchy nipples, including a yeast infection or other infection, allergies, and irritation from clothing. But there is a rare type of breast cancer that can cause a dry, red, itchy rash to appear on or around your nipples, similar to the type you get with eczema, she explains.

Regardless of the cause, an itchy rash is one symptom you should always have your doctor take a look at, particularly if it doesnt go away after a week or two.

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Early Signs Of Breast Cancer

Early on, a person may notice a change in their breast when they perform a monthly breast exam or when minor abnormal pain doesnt seem to go away. Early signs of breast cancer to look for include:

  • changes in the shape of the nipple
  • breast pain that doesnt go away after your next period
  • a new lump that doesnt go away after your next period
  • nipple discharge from one breast thats 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

A lump thats hard with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous.

Is It A Breast Infection Orinflammatory Breast Cancer

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If your breast is red and swollen, your doctorwill first want to rule out the possibility of breast infection which is more likely. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic treatment for a weekor two. If your symptoms subside with antibiotics, you wont require cancertesting.

But if your symptoms dont improve with thiscourse of treatment, your doctor may consider the possibility of inflammatory breast cancer and recommendtesting. You may be scheduled for a mammogram or other diagnostic testing.Typically, you will also have a biopsy to solidify an inflammatory breastcancer diagnosis.

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Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.

Most breast lumps aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor. You should also speak to your GP if you notice any of the following:

  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • discharge from either of your nipples
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Breast pain alone isn’t a symptom of breast cancer.

Learn more about the symptoms of breast cancer

After examining your breasts, your GP may refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This might include a mammography or a biopsy.

Read more about breast screening and how breast cancer is diagnosed

What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer

Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.

Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, and the presence of these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer.

By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.

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How Is Benign Breast Disease Managed Or Treated

Most types of benign breast disease dont require treatment. Your healthcare provider may recommend treatment if you have atypical hyperplasia or a different kind of benign breast disease that increases your future risk of breast cancer. If you experience pain or discomfort or have an increased cancer risk, these treatments can help:

  • Fine needle aspiration to drain fluid-filled cysts.
  • Surgery to remove lumps .
  • Oral antibiotics for infections like mastitis.

Youve Got Painful Swelling

Does Breast Cancer Itch

Swollen and painful breasts are, well, a pain, and while theyre mainly due to hormonal changes , they can be linked to breast cancer.

Its all about the size and placement of the tumor, says Dr. Patt, which can be responsible for a change in the size or shape of your breast, or cause of painful swelling. While the vast majority of women who report breast pain do not have cancer, if breast pain and swelling arent linked to your menstrual cycle, youre not breastfeeding, and it appears suddenly or doesnt go away, give your doctor a call because whatever is happening needs to be addressed, adds Dr. Patt.

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You Notice Skin Dimpling

Your breasts might not be the first body partthat comes to mind when you think of dimples but if you notice it in thisunusual area, follow up with your doctor. It could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, which is anaggressive type.

You may notice swelling along with dimpling orpitted skin if cancer cells have caused a buildup of lymph fluids in yourbreast. What does it look like? According to the medical world, the dimpledskin can look like the surface of an orange.

Benign Breast Conditions Linked To A Slight Increase In Breast Cancer Risk

Some benign breast conditions are associated with a slight increase in the risk of developing breast cancer. All of these conditions involve an overgrowth of breast cells that closely resemble normal, healthy cells. The cells look fairly typical and are not abnormal .

The increase in cancer risk is so slight that it generally doesnt change recommendations about screening practices or follow-up. Your doctor may encourage you to pay closer attention to getting annual mammograms and adopting healthy behaviors that lower risk, such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol. However, your breast cancer risk is still considered to be similar to that of women at average risk.

In addition, your individual situation will be taken into account. You and your doctor can discuss your benign diagnosis in relation to any other well-defined risk factors you may have, such as family history or personal medical history. You can then decide if you need a different follow-up plan.

The following benign conditions are linked to a slight increase in cancer risk. Most would be diagnosed after youve had a biopsy of a suspicious area that showed up on an imaging study. Your doctor often will classify the condition based on the appearance of breast tissue under a microscope.

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Why You Shouldnt Think Twice About Getting A Lump Checked

A womans risk for breast cancer is highest after the age of 50, but even young women can develop breast cancer. Since any lump could potentially be cancerous, its critical that you have any lump you may have felt evaluated by a doctor no matter your age.

While many lumps will end up being benign breast lump disease, many others wont be and we dont want to miss out on diagnosing breast cancer, says Dr. Joshi. Through mammograms and other imaging modalities, breast cancer is very easy to catch and diagnose, and when caught early breast cancer is very, very treatable.

In addition, Dr. Joshi says you shouldnt avoid having a lump checked just because youre worried about having a painful biopsy.

Mammograms and breast ultrasounds are very powerful tools that can help us diagnose even the smallest breast cancers with very high specificity, explains Dr. Joshi. We dont need to biopsy the lump in every case.

Lastly, if youre nervous about going to your doctors office to have a lump checked during COVID-19, dont be. Houston Methodist doctor offices and imaging centers have enhanced safety measures in place and are taking extra precautions to keep you safe during your appointment or mammogram, including:

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How Does Pregnancy Affect Benign Breast Disease

The importance of checking for breast cancer

Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can cause breast lumps, tenderness and nipple discharge. Youre also more likely to experience benign breast changes or develop a breast infection called mastitis while breastfeeding. Breast changes during pregnancy or breastfeeding are rarely cancerous. Still, you should reach out to your healthcare provider when you notice any breast change.

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Color Or Texture Changes

This can include redness, darkening, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin. One type of breast cancer called Paget diseasea rare form that starts at your breast ducts and spreads to the nipple and areolais often accompanied by a rash. Any change in the look of the breast is worth getting checked out. Even if its not cancer, it likely needs to be treated, Dr Lee says.

You Notice Changes That Arent Related To Your Boobs At All

Back pain, neck pain, and unexplained weight loss were all listed as other breast cancer symptoms that led women to seek medical care and ultimately get diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the study published in Cancer Epidemiology.

Thats because breast cancer can spread before its caught, causing symptoms in body parts that have nothing to do with your boobs. Its not possible to identify every possible sign of breast cancer so when it comes to early detection, you are your own best weapon, says Dr. Denduluri. Overall, any persistent, noticeable change should be checked by a doctor.

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You Notice Changes That Aren’t Related To Your Boobs At All

Back pain, neck pain, and unexplained weight loss were all listed as other breast cancer symptoms that led women to seek medical care and ultimately get diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the study published in Cancer Epidemiology.

That’s because breast cancer can spread before it’s caught, causing symptoms in body parts that have nothing to do with your boobs. It’s not possible to identify every possible sign of breast cancer so when it comes to early detection, you are your own best weapon, says Dr. Denduluri. Overall, any persistent, noticeable change should be checked by a doctor.

What Is Fat Necrosis

Although a #lump in the#breast is typically associated with # ...

Fat necrosis is a condition in which painless, round, firm lumps caused by damaged and disintegrating fatty tissues form in the breast tissue. Fat necrosis often occurs in women with very large breasts or who have had a bruise or blow to the breast. This condition may also be the result of a lumpectomy and radiation from a prior cancerous lump. In some cases, healthcare providers will watch the lump through several menstrual cycles. He or she may want to do a mammogram before deciding whether to remove it. These lumps are not cancerous and they do not increase your risk of cancer.

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You Feel A Strange Tickling Sensation

How your breasts feel internally can be just as important as how they feel on the outside, says Sherry Ross, MD, an OB-GYN and author of She-ology. Some women report feeling a sensation almost like theyre being tickled from the inside, their breast feels like its buzzing or prickly inside, or like their breast milk is letting down , she says.

Weird feelings can happen for no reason at all but if youre experiencing strange sensations in your breast that are abnormal and recurring, its time to call your doc, she says.

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Benign Breast Conditions Linked To A Moderate Increase In Breast Cancer Risk

Benign breast conditions known as atypical hyperplasias are linked to a moderate increase in the lifetime risk of breast cancer. However, if you are diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in any given year remains low. The actual risk of developing breast cancer over a lifetime depends on other breast cancer risk factors as well as the age you were diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia.

Hyperplasia means that there is excessive growth of breast cells that are also atypical, meaning they have some, but not all, of the features of carcinoma in situ . These cells arent cancer but they arent completely normal either. Sometimes they are also called neoplasias.

Thanks to the increased use of mammography screening, atypical hyperplasias are being diagnosed more often than ever before. An abnormal finding through screening would lead to biopsy and examination of the tissue.

If youre diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, keep in mind that these conditions are not breast cancer. They also dont mean you will develop breast cancer one day. Instead, these conditions suggest a potential for moderate increased risk in both breasts, not just the breast where the cell changes were found. They give you good reason to pay closer attention to your breast health and perhaps work with a breast specialist. However, most women with atypical hyperplasias will never get breast cancer.

There are two main types of atypical hyperplasia:

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