Men And Breast Cancer Warning Signs
Breast cancer isnt typically associated with people who were assigned male at birth. But male breast cancer can occur in rare instances at any age, although its more common in older men.
Many people dont realize that people assigned male at birth have breast tissue too, and those cells can undergo cancerous changes. Because male breast cells are much less developed than female breast cells, breast cancer isnt as common in this part of the population.
The most common symptom of breast cancer in people assigned male at birth is a lump in the breast tissue.
Other than a lump, symptoms of male breast cancer include:
- thickening of the breast tissue
- nipple discharge
- redness or scaling of the nipple
- a nipple that retracts or turns inward
- unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
Most men dont regularly check their breast tissue for signs of lumps, so male breast cancer is often diagnosed much later.
Advice For Caring For A Loved One With Breast Cancer
If your loved one has breast cancer, your first response may be fear and uncertainty. You may also find yourself in a caregiving role once treatment begins. Cancer treatment is hard on the body, so your loved one may need more support throughout the day. If your spouse has breast cancer, you may have to take on a bigger role with childcare and housework.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you step into your caregiving role:
Breast cancer will impact your loved one even after theyve finished treatment. Dont wait for things to return to normal to celebrate. Celebrate milestones such as finishing surgery or making it through chemotherapy. If the cancer is in remission, celebrate, even if your loved one doesnt have their energy back yet. It will take time for cancer to be behind you. Embrace your new normal as you support your loved one through their cancer.
Why Do My Breasts Hurt
Breast pain is very common in women of all ages.
Having painful, sore or tender breasts can cause a lot of anxiety. But on its own, pain in the breasts isn’t usually a sign of breast cancer.
Many women experience breast pain as part of their normal menstrual cycle . This is called cyclical breast pain.
Lasting pain in the breast thats not related to periods is known as non-cyclical breast pain.
Sometimes pain that feels as though it’s in the breast is coming from somewhere else, such as a pulled muscle in the chest. This is known as chest wall pain.
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Breast Thickening Or Swelling
Breast thickening or swelling may be a sign of breast cancer. Swelling can also occur around your collarbone or armpits. This may be a sign that breast cancer has spread to your lymph nodes. Sometimes, patients notice breast swelling without ever noticing a lump. Thickening or swelling may cause a noticeable change in the size or shape of your breasts. Thickening or swelling may occur in one breast, or in both.
Why Its Important To Be Breast Aware
Remember, the earlier breast cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat it and the more likely the treatment is to be successful. So it is important that you go to your GP as soon as possible if you notice worrying symptoms.
There is information about breast awareness, how to check your breasts , and what to look for, on our page about finding breast cancer early. You can also download a free infographic about risks, prevention and how to check your breasts here.
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Change In Size Shape Or Feel Of Your Breast
A cancer might cause your breast to look bigger or have a different shape than usual, it might feel different.
Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender just before their period.
It can help to be breast aware. This means getting to know the size, shape and feel of your breasts.
Previous Breast Cancer Or Lump
You have a higher risk of developing breast cancer again if you’ve previously had breast cancer. The risk is also higher if you’ve had early non-invasive cancer cell changes in breast ducts. This could have been either in your other breast or in the same breast.
A benign breast lump doesn’t mean you have breast cancer.
Certain changes in your breast tissue, such as cells growing abnormally in ducts , or abnormal cells inside your breast lobules , can make getting breast cancer more likely.
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Money And Financial Support
If you have to reduce or stop work because of your cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.
If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:
- if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance
- you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income
Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.
New Lump In Breast Collar Or Underarm
The most well-known warning sign when it comes to breast cancer is a breast lump. A lump can occur in the breast itself, but may also appear in the collar region or underarm. Breast tissue extends from your collarbone to your underarm and rib cage. Lumps are often hard and painless with irregular edges, but some lumps may be painful or tender.
Most breast lumps are not caused by cancer, but if you find a lump, its important to have it looked at by a doctor. It is normal to have breast lumps before your period that go away. If you have a lump that does not disappear at the end of your period, you should alert your doctor.
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Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women.
The most common signs are:
- A change in the look or feel of the breast OR
- A change in the look or feel of the nipple OR
- Nipple discharge
If you have any of the warning signs described below, see a health care provider .
If you dont have a provider, one of the best ways to find a good one is to get a referral from a trusted family member or friend.
If thats not an option, call your health department, a clinic or a nearby hospital. If you have insurance, your insurance company may also have a list of providers in your area.
Learn more about finding a health care provider.
In most cases, these changes are not cancer.
One example is breast pain. Pain is more common with benign breast conditions than with breast cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to get it checked.
If the change turns out to be breast cancer, its best to find it at an early stage, when the chances of survival are highest.
Myth : Nipple Discharge Is Usually A Sign Of Cancer
No, the opposite is true. Many women have leftover milk in their ducts after breastfeeding, or they have debris that can cause greenish or even black discharge that can be squeezed out of the ducts, Dr. Pederson says.
Whats more concerning is bloody or clear discharge that leaks out when youre not squeezing, she says. This type of discharge can be a sign of breast cancer about 10 percent of the time. Even with bloody nipple discharge, the cause is usually a benign condition inside the milk duct.
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Breast Or Nipple Pain
Breast cancer can cause changes in skin cells that lead to feelings of pain, tenderness, and discomfort in the breast. Although breast cancer is often painless, it is important not to ignore any signs or symptoms that could be due to breast cancer.
Some people may describe the pain as a burning sensation.
Metastatic Breast Cancer & Pain
Metastatic breast cancer may also cause pain. It could be from a larger tumorthese are often over two centimeters in diameteror pain in other regions of the body due to the spread of cancer. If breast cancer spreads to your bones, it may cause bone pain in your chest, or back pain with leg weakness. If cancer spreads to your brain, it may cause headaches.
If breast cancer travels to the adrenal glands, you may feel a dull back pain. If your breast cancer spreads to your liver, you could have pain in the upper right part of the abdomen and develop jaundice .
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How Can I Care For My Breast Infections At Home
While receiving treatment for infection, you can also take steps to relieve uncomfortable symptoms at home:
- Warm compresses may ease pain and help lactation. Try applying a warm, wet washcloth to the infected area for 15 minutes, four times a day.
- Empty the breast well.
- Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen , may help relieve pain.
- Use varied positions to breastfeed.
- If possible, avoid prolonged engorgement before breastfeeding. Feed or pump when its time.
Meeting with a lactation consultant to alter your breastfeeding technique or position may help prevent the infection from returning.
If youre breastfeeding, use these tips to reduce your chances of developing a breast infection:
Signs Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Despite initial treatment and success, breast cancer can sometimes come back. This is called recurrence. Recurrence happens when a small number of cells escape the initial treatment.
Symptoms of a recurrence in the same place as the first breast cancer are very similar to symptoms of the first breast cancer. They include:
- a new breast lump
- redness or swelling of the breast
- a new thickening near the mastectomy scar
If breast cancer comes back regionally, it means that the cancer has returned to the lymph nodes or near to the original cancer but not exactly the same place. The symptoms may be slightly different.
Symptoms of a regional recurrence may include:
- lumps in your lymph nodes or near the collarbone
- chest pain
- pain or loss of sensation in your arm or shoulder
- swelling in your arm on the same side as the original breast cancer
If youve had a mastectomy or other surgery related to breast cancer, you might get lumps or bumps caused by scar tissue in the reconstructed breast. This isnt cancer, but you should let your doctor know about them so they can be monitored.
As with any cancer, early detection and treatment are major factors in determining the outcome. Breast cancer is easily treated and usually curable when detected in the earliest of stages.
The best way to fight breast cancer is early detection. Talk with your doctor about when you should start scheduling regular mammograms.
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on a mammogram. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, itchy breast that is tender to the touch
- The surface of the breast may take on a ridged or pitted appearance, similar to an orange peel
- Heaviness, burning, or aching in one breast
- One breast is visibly larger than the other
- Inverted nipple
- No mass is felt with a breast self-exam
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm and/or above the collarbone
- Symptoms unresolved after a course of antibiotics
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer usually does not cause a distinct lump in the breast. Therefore, a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, or even a mammogram may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Ultrasounds may also miss inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can develop rapidly, and the disease can progress quickly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.
For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, redness, swelling, itchiness and soreness are often signs of a breast infection such as mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or nursing and you develop these symptoms, your doctor should test for inflammatory breast cancer.
What Causes A Fibroadenoma
Its unknown exactly what causes fibroadenomas. Hormones such as estrogen may play a part in the growth and development of the tumors. Taking oral contraceptives before the age of 20 has been associated with a higher risk of developing fibroadenomas as well.
These tumors may grow larger in size, particularly during pregnancy. During menopause, they often shrink. Its also possible for fibroadenomas to resolve on their own.
Some women have reported that avoiding foods and drinks that are stimulants like tea, chocolate, soft drinks, and coffee have improved their breast symptoms.
Even though this is worth trying, there are no studies that have scientifically established a link between ingesting stimulants and improving breast symptoms.
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Causes Of Breast Cancer: How Did This Happen
When youre told that you have breast cancer, its natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. But no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesnt, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cells DNA.
What Is A Normal Breast
No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age. For more information, see the National Cancer Institutes Breast Changes and Conditions.external icon
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What Does A Fibroadenoma Feel Like
Some fibroadenomas are so small they cant be felt. When youre able to feel one, its very distinct from the surrounding tissue. The edges are clearly defined and the tumors have a detectable shape.
Theyre moveable under the skin and typically not tender. These tumors often feel like marbles, but may have a rubbery feel to them.
Fat Necrosis Vs Oil Cysts
Oil cysts can also cause a lump in your breast. Oil cysts are benign, or noncancerous, fluid-filled sacs that can appear in your breast. Like other cysts, they will most likely feel smooth, squishy, and flexible. Oil cysts can form for no reason, but they often appear after breast surgery or trauma. As your breast heals from surgery or trauma, breast fat necrosis can melt instead of hardening into scar tissue. The melted fat can collect in one place in your breast and your body will cause a layer of calcium to form around it. This melted fat surrounded by calcium is an oil cyst.
If you have any oil cyst, the lump is probably the only symptom youll notice. These cysts can show up on mammograms, but theyre usually diagnosed with a breast ultrasound.
In many cases, an oil cyst will go away on its own, so your doctor might recommend watchful waiting. If the cyst is painful or is causing you anxiety, a doctor can use needle aspiration to drain the fluid. This usually deflates the cyst.
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Coping With Breast Pain
Breast pain can be very distressing, and many women worry that they may have breast cancer. In most cases breast pain will be the result of normal changes in the breasts.
Even though you may feel reassured that your breast pain is normal and you dont have breast cancer, the pain often remains. This can be upsetting, especially if your specialist cant tell you the exact cause of your breast pain.
Women affected by breast pain may feel many different emotions, including fear, frustration or helplessness. Although understanding more about your breast pain wont cure it, it may help you to get back some control over your life.
Having severe, long-lasting breast pain can sometimes affect a womans daily activities which may cause anxiety and, for some, depression. However, this isnt the case for most women and their pain can be helped or managed.
Having breast pain doesnt increase your risk of breast cancer. However, its still important to be breast aware and go back to your GP if the pain increases or changes, or you notice any other changes in your breasts.
Grade Of Breast Cancer
The grade describes the appearance of the cancer cells.
- Low grade the cells, although abnormal, appear to be growing slowly.
- Medium grade the cells look more abnormal than low-grade cells.
- High grade the cells look even more abnormal and are more likely to grow quickly.
Want to know more?
- Breast Cancer Now: Secondary breast cancer
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