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What Are Some Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

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.

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Many breast cancer symptoms are invisible and hard to notice without a professional screening, but professionals recommend a monthly breast self-exam to identify any changes.

Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump.

Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Signs and symptoms often appear when the tumour grows large enough to be felt as a lump in the breast or when the cancer spreads to surrounding tissues and organs. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as breast cancer.

The most common symptom of ductal carcinoma is a firm or hard lump that feels very different from the rest of the breast. It may feel like it is attached to the skin or the surrounding breast tissue. The lump doesnt get smaller or come and go with your period. It may be tender, but its usually not painful. .

Lobular carcinoma often does not form a lump. It feels more like the tissue in the breast is getting thicker or harder.

Other symptoms of ductal and lobular breast cancer include:

  • a lump in the armpit
  • changes in the shape or size of the breast
  • changes to the nipple, such as a nipple that suddenly starts to point inward
  • discharge that comes out of the nipple without squeezing it or that has blood in it

Late signs and symptoms occur as the cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body, including other organs. Late symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • bone pain

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Are There Early Signs Of Breast Cancer

As with other types of cancer, breast cancer is most responsive to treatment when diagnosed in its early stages. Breast cancer does not usually cause symptoms in its early stages, but it may cause signs that every woman should be aware of.

The first thing you should know about the early signs of breast cancer is that they can vary from person to person, so something that could indicate breast cancer in one person may not be a sign of cancer in another. The signs and symptoms may also vary between the different types of breast cancer. Also, some people do not experience any signs of breast cancer when the condition is in its early stages.

Because breast cancer does not cause many physical symptoms in its early stages, mammograms are the number one way to detect the condition. Having a mammogram can also provide answers, so you dont have to guess about the significance of any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing.

Treatment Options For Metastatic Breast Cancer

Easily Recognizable Early Signs of Breast Cancer

Treatment for metastatic breast cancer often is based on systemic therapies, which use drugs rather than surgery or radiation. Metastases treatments are designed to shrink tumors and slow their growth, help ease symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment may change, such as when one therapy stops working, or the side effects become too uncomfortable. Rather than having only one treatment, most patients undergo several treatments combined to help fight the cancer.

The four broad categories of drug-based treatments are:

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Symptom Signature Of Breast Cancer Individual Symptoms

A total of 2316/2783 of symptomatic women with breast cancer were included in the analysis . Among them, 2543 symptoms were recorded, averaging 1.1 symptoms per woman. A total of 56 distinct presenting symptoms were reported in the study population , in 95 unique phenotypes. Breast lump was the most common symptom, recorded in about four-fifths of all women . The next most commonly reported presenting symptoms were nipple abnormalities , breast pain , and breast skin abnormalities .

Changes To The Breast Or Chest Area

After breast-conserving surgery or a mastectomy, with or without reconstruction, be aware of any changes to either side, such as:;

  • swelling on your chest, in your armpit or around your collarbone
  • a change in shape or size
  • a change in skin texture, such as puckering or dimpling
  • redness or a rash on or around the nipple or on the skin
  • liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing it
  • the nipple has become inverted or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
  • swelling in the arm or hand
  • a lump or thickening that feels different

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You Notice Dimply Scaly Patchy Or Inflamed Skin

You know your boobs and all their little quirks so if you notice any changes to their normal appearance, pay attention, says Debra Patt, MD, OB-GYN, and breast cancer expert with Texas Oncology, a practice in the US Oncology Network.

“Any unusual thickening, redness, rash, dimpling, or puckering of your breast skin, or around the nipple, should be checked out by your doctor,” she explains.

Other Symptoms And Signs Of Metastasis

What Are Some Breast Cancer Symptoms?
  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom, in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If the doctor diagnoses metastatic breast cancer, relieving symptoms remains an important part of care and treatment. This may be called palliative care or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.

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What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean

Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.

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Symptoms Specific To Invasive And Non

Breast cancer is a complex condition; for more information, please refer to our breast cancer page.

Ductal carcinoma in situ is a specific type of carcinoma in which the cells that line your milk ducts have become cancerous, but the abnormal cells have not spread into the nearby breast tissue. Because the cancer cells have not invaded nearby tissue, doctors consider DCIS to be non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer.

Symptoms of breast tumors can vary from one person to the next, and vary from one type of breast cancer to the next, but some of the most common early signs of breast cancer can include:

  • Swelling, redness, or other visible skin changes occurring in just one breast or both breasts
  • A change in the shape of one or both of your breasts, or an increase in size
  • Discharge other than milk from your nipple
  • Changes in the appearance of one or both of your nipples
  • General pain in any area of your breast
  • Lumps or bumps that you can feel on or deep inside the breast

In another type of breast cancer, known as lobular carcinoma in situ , abnormal cells form in the glands that produce milk. While LCIS involves the development of abnormal cells in the breast, it is not a type of cancer a diagnosis of LCIS does mean you have an increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer.

Also Check: What To Do If You Think You Have Breast Cancer

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.;

Other Causes Of Pain And Tenderness

Breast Cancer Warning Signs

We often associate pain with something wrong, so when people feel tenderness or pain in their breast, they often think of breast cancer. But breast pain is rarely the first noticeable symptom of breast cancer. Several other factors can cause the pain.

Clinically known as mastalgia, breast pain can also be caused by the following:

  • the fluctuation of hormones caused by menstruation

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A Lump In Your Breast Or Underarm

A lump in your breast or underarm is often the first noticeable sign of breast cancer. There could also be swelling in addition to, or instead of, the lump.

What does a breast lump feel like?

Most often, breast lumps feel hard, like a knot. But a lump may also feel like part of your breast has become thicker than the tissue around it.

Do breast cancer lumps or benign breast lumps hurt?

Some breast lumps can be painful, yes although most dont cause pain. If a lump does cause pain, it doesnt necessarily mean its cancerous. Cysts and fibrocystic breasts can sometimes cause pain without being cancerous.

If youve been having breast pain and youre not sure whats causing it, dont wait too long to have it checked.

Are there other causes of breast lumps besides cancer?

Yes. Not all breast lumps are cancerous. Breast cysts and fibroadenomas are two common types of benign breast lumps that women experience.

Other conditions such as fat necrosis or infection can present themselves as lumps, too. This is why its important to talk with a doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your breast health.

Questions or concerns about your breast health? Were here for you.

What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer

  • A change in how the breast or nipple looks or feels
  • A change in the breast or nipple appearance
  • Any type of nipple dischargeparticularly clear discharge or bloody discharge
  • Skin irritation, such as redness, thickening or dimpling of the skin
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit

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

  • Ages 40-44: Women should have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
  • Ages 45-54: Women should get a mammogram every year.
  • Women age 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year or choose to continue annual mammograms.

All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening what the test can and cannot do.

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Uncommon Breast Cancer Symptoms

While breast lumps are a common warning sign of possible breast cancer, theyre not the only one. Other, lesser-known symptoms could also point to the disease.

Like breast lumps, these less common symptoms could also reflect benign conditions. However, you should be checked by a doctor if you have any of them. We asked Holly Pederson, MD, director of medical breast services at the Cleveland Clinic, to explain.

WebMD: Besides lumps, what other symptoms might indicate breast cancer?

Pederson: One less common sign is breast puckering. If a woman lifts her arm and looks in the mirror, there can be a puckering of the skin. If you lift your arms overhead and have a puckering anywhere it should be checked out. When the tumor grows, it disrupts the architecture and can cause a puckering of the ligaments inside. Puckering looks like kind of an indentation that comes back to normal as you put your arms back down.

Another less common sign is nipple discharge that comes out on its own. Nipple discharge is a relatively common complaint. If it occurs only with squeezing of the nipple and is on both sides and is white or greenish or even brownish, it is usually not a sign of breast cancer.

But when it comes out on its own, from one nipple, and is bloody or clear, it might be a sign of breast cancer.

WebMD: Any other uncommon symptoms to know about?

WebMD: Women should still be on the outlook for breast lumps, right? If so, whats the best way?

Where Does Breast Cancer Spread

How to spot breast cancer symptoms

When breast cancer spreads beyond the breast, it typically first travels to nearby lymph nodes or glands. These are located in the armpits, chest, and around the collarbone.;

Someone with breast cancer may feel a swollen lymph node under the arm even before they notice a change or lump in the breast itself. This does not always mean there is cancer. Lymph nodes can swell for a number of reasons, with swelling often being a symptom of an infection. But similar to any abnormal symptoms in the breast, its best to be safe and get it checked out.

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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.

What Are The Early Signs Of Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to another part of the body, most commonly the liver, brain, bones, or lungs.

  • According to breastcancer.org, the most common symptom of breast cancer that has spread to the bone is a sudden, noticeable new pain. Breast cancer can spread to any bone, but most often spreads to the ribs, spine, pelvis, or the long bones in the arms and legs.
  • When breast cancer moves into the lung, it often doesnt cause many symptoms. If a lung metastasis does cause noticeable symptoms, it may include pain or discomfort in the lung, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough.
  • Symptoms of breast cancer that has spread to the brain can include headache, changes in speech or vision, memory problems, and others.
  • When breast cancer spreads to the liver, it often doesnt cause many noticeable symptoms. If a liver metastasis does cause symptoms, it can include pain or discomfort in the mid-section, fatigue, weight loss or poor appetite, and fever.

There are a wide variety of treatment options for metastatic breast cancer, and new medicines are being tested every day.

Although there is no sure way to fully prevent breast cancer, it is highly recommended from the National Breast Cancer Foundation to do these things to lower your risk:

For more information on breast cancer early detection, risk factors, treatment, recovery or free patient support, call the American Cancer Society anytime at 800-227-2345;or visit cancer.org.

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Early Warning Signs Of Invasive Breast Cancer

Symptoms more specific to invasive breast cancer are:

  • Irritated or itchy breasts
  • Increase in breast size or shape
  • Changes in touch
  • Peeling or flaking of the nipple skin
  • A breast lump or thickening
  • Redness or pitting of the breast skin

It’s important to remember that other, benign conditions may have caused these changes. For example, changes to the skin texture on the breast may be caused by a skin condition like eczema, and swollen;lymph nodes;may be caused by an infection in the breast or another, unrelated illness. Seeing a doctor for an evaluation will help you determine whether something you notice is cause for concern.


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