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What To Look For In Breast Cancer Signs

You Have Sore On Your Breast That Won’t Heal

What Are the Signs of Breast Cancer?

Whether it’s on your breast or on your nipple, a sore that won’t seem to heal is something to pay close attention to. “It may be a sign of Paget’s disease of the breast, a rare form of breast cancer,” says Alvarez. “This disease originates in the nipple. It’s not usually invasive and is most commonly diagnosed in patients in their 70s and 80s.” And for warning signals of other types of serious conditions, check out These Are All of the Cancer Warning Signs Hiding in Plain Sight.

Stage 3 Breast Cancer

  • Stage 3A:
  • The cancer has spread to 49 axillary lymph nodes or has enlarged the internal mammary lymph nodes, and the primary tumor can be any size.
  • Tumors are greater than 5 cm, and the cancer has spread to 13 axillary lymph nodes or any breastbone nodes.
  • Stage 3B: A tumor has invaded the chest wall or skin and may or may not have invaded up to nine lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3C: Cancer is found in 10 or more axillary lymph nodes, lymph nodes near the collarbone, or internal mammary nodes.
  • You Have Enlarged Lymph Nodes Around Your Collarbone

    Your armpits aren’t the only subtle place you might experience lymph node swelling due to breast cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, the same issue can also occur above or below your collarbonesa location most people don’t even realize they have a set of lymph nodes in the first place. And for more red flags that aren’t always so obvious, check out 40 Subtle Signs Your Body Is Telling You Something’s Seriously Wrong.

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    What Happens At The Breast Clinic

    At the hospital or breast clinic, you may have a:

    • breast examination
    • scan usually a breast X-ray or ultrasound
    • biopsy where a needle is inserted into your breast to remove some cells for testing

    The tests are often done during the same visit.

    You’ll usually be told the results on the same day, although biopsy results can take longer you should get them in a week or two.

    Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

    Breast Cancer Awareness

    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

    Recommended Reading: Does Having Breast Cancer Shorten Life Expectancy

    What Does A Lump In Your Breast Feel Like

    A new lump is one of the most common signs of breast cancer. Lumps that are breast cancers can vary. For example, they may be painless or painful. Lumps can also be a sign of a benign breast condition. However, if you have found a new lump or breast change, it is important to see your doctor so that it can be checked by a health professional.

    Breast Exam By Your Doctor

    The same guidelines for self-exams provided above are true for breast exams done by your doctor or other healthcare professional. They wont hurt you, and your doctor may do a breast exam during your annual visit.

    If youre having symptoms that concern you, its a good idea to have your doctor do a breast exam. During the exam, your doctor will check both of your breasts for abnormal spots or signs of breast cancer.

    Your doctor may also check other parts of your body to see if the symptoms youre having could be related to another condition.

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    What Are The Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer

    While different people have different symptoms of breast cancerand some dont have any at allwarning signs of breast cancer include new lumps in the breast and armpit, swelling of the breast, redness or pain in the nipple region, or change in the breast size.

    Remember that some of these symptoms are associated with other conditions that arent cancer.

    There Are Many Reasons Why We May Not Check Our Breasts

    How to spot breast cancer symptoms

    Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes and everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes. Whether it’s in the bath, shower or before going to bed, checking for signs and symptoms is as easy as TLC.

    Building new habits can take time. Checking as part of your self care routine, setting a reminder on your phone or making a note on your calendar can help.

    You might feel scared to check, but remember: the sooner breast cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be. Find out about what to look and feel for.

    There is stigma, too, because we are talking about breasts. In some communities, you dont speak about these things. You dont speak about cancer. But not talking about it doesnt stop people from getting it.

    – Bami

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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.

    Peeling Scaling Or Flaking Skin

    Dont immediately be alarmed if you notice peeling, scaling, or flaking on your breasts or the skin around your nipples. This is a symptom of breast cancer, but it can also be a symptom of atopic dermatitis, eczema, or another skin condition.

    After an exam, your doctor may run tests to rule out Pagets disease, which is a type of breast cancer affecting the nipples. It can also cause these symptoms.

    Recommended Reading: Stage 4 Breast Cancer Life Expectancy Without Treatment

    Who Provides Breast Cancer Treatment

    A medical team may involve several different health professionals. It may include a GP, a radiologist, an oncologist, a breast care nurse, a surgeon and other allied health professionals such as counsellors and therapists. Having a multi-disciplinary team means a patient can receive the best care possible.

    You’re Experiencing Abnormal Tenderness Or Pain

    Signs of Breast Cancer

    You might experience some tenderness around your period, and that’s totally normal. If you’re experiencing persistent or severe pain, though, and you know it’s not due to your menstrual cycle, the American Cancer Society says it should be checked out. Even though breast cancers don’t normally cause pain and tenderness, it’s still a possibility.

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    What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer

    The most common types of breast cancer are:

    • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma. This cancer starts in the milk ducts of the breast. It then breaks through the wall of the duct and invades the surrounding tissue in the breast. This is the most common form of breast cancer, accounting for 80% of cases.
    • Ductal carcinoma in situ is ductal carcinoma in its earliest stage, or precancerous . In situ refers to the fact that the cancer hasn’t spread beyond its point of origin. In this case, the disease is confined to the milk ducts and has not invaded nearby breast tissue. If untreated, ductal carcinoma in situ may become invasive cancer. It is almost always curable.
    • Infiltrating lobular carcinoma. This cancer begins in the lobules of the breast where breast milk is produced, but has spread to surrounding tissues in the breast. It accounts for 10 to 15% of breast cancers. This cancer can be more difficult to diagnose with mammograms.
    • Lobular carcinoma in situ is a marker for cancer that is only in the lobules of the breast. It isn’t a true cancer, but serves as a marker for the increased risk of developing breast cancer later, possibly in both or either breasts. Thus, it is important for women with lobular carcinoma in situ to have regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

    Nipple Discharge Is Often Normal

    Lots of women have nipple discharge from time to time. It may just be normal for you.

    It’s also not unusual for babies to have milky nipple discharge soon after they’re born. This should stop in a few weeks.

    Nipple discharge in men is not normal.

    The colour of your discharge is not a good way of telling if it’s anything serious. Normal discharge can be lots of colours.

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    Previous Breast Cancer Or Lump

    If you have previously had breast cancer or early non-invasive cancer cell changes in breast ducts, you have a higher risk of developing it again, either in your other breast or in the same breast.

    A benign breast lump does not mean you have breast cancer, but certain types of breast lumps may slightly increase your risk of developing cancer.

    Some benign changes in your breast tissue, such as cells growing abnormally in ducts , or abnormal cells inside your breast lobes , can make getting breast cancer more likely.

    Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men

    What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

    Possible symptoms of breast cancer to watch for include:

    • A lump or swelling, which is often painless
    • Skin dimpling or puckering
    • Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
    • Discharge from the nipple

    Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.

    These changes aren’t always caused by cancer, but if you notice any breast changes, you should see a health care professional as soon as possible.

    Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

    Burstein HJ, Harris JR, Morrow M. Ch. 79 – Malignant tumors of the breast. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’sCancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015.

    Morrow M. Chapter 3: Physical Exam of the Breast. In: Harris JR, Lippman ME, Morrow M, Osborne CK, eds. Diseases of the Breast. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health 2014.

    Wolff AC, Domchek SM, Davidson NE et al. Ch 91 – Cancer of the Breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloffs Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier: 2014.

    Last Revised: April 27, 2018

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    Breast Cancer Survival Rate

    Breast cancer survival rates vary widely based on many factors.

    Two of the most important factors are the type of cancer you have and the stage of the cancer at the time you receive a diagnosis. Other factors that may play a role include your age, gender, and race.

    shows theres a higher mortality rate in non-white people diagnosed with breast cancer compared with white people. One reason for this may be healthcare disparities.

    The good news is breast cancer survival rates are improving.

    According to the ACS , in 1975, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer in women was 75.2 percent. But for women diagnosed between 2008 and 2014, it was 90.6 percent.

    Five-year survival rates for breast cancer differ depending on stage at diagnosis, ranging from 99 percent for localized, early stage cancers to 27 percent for advanced, metastatic cancers.

    Hidden Signs Of Breast Cancer

    According to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program of the National Cancer Institute, women who spot the signs of breast cancer at an earlier stage have a 99 percent chance of living for more than five years.

    The 8 hidden signs of breast cancer include:

  • Lump in the breast: A lump in the breast is the most common early sign of breast cancer. The 2017 study published in Cancer Epidemiology reported that 83 percent of women with breast cancer have at least one lump.
  • Lumps of breast cancer include:
  • Hard
  • Immobile
  • Usually not painful
  • Inverted nipple: An inverted nipple means that the nipple is pointed inward. Some women may normally have inverted nipples. However, nipple inversion in women who previously had outward-pointing nipples may be concerning. The 2017 study published in Cancer Epidemiology reported that nipple abnormalities are the second most common sign of breast cancer.
  • Dimpling or wrinkling of the skin: Any recent dimpling or wrinkling of skin over the breast can be a sign of breast cancer. Its appearance is similar to that of dimples on the face or indentations. This occurs when breast cancer is pulling the skin within.
  • Orange-peel-like appearance: When a part of the breast resembles the skin of an orange, this can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of breast cancer in which the breast becomes red and swollen and becomes pitted similar to an orange peel.
  • Also Check: Stage 3 Metastatic Cancer

    Other Common Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Include:

    • Warm, red, irritated and/or itchy breasts. These are among the most common early warning signs of inflammatory breast cancer.
    • Nipple discharge. With the exception of breast milk that may leak from breasts during or after pregnancy, any nipple discharge should be checked by a doctor. Clear or bloody discharge may indicate cancer.
    • Flat or inverted nipple. If this is unusual for you, have it evaluated by a doctor.
    • Scaliness. Healthy breast skin is smooth. If yours is scaly or inflamed, that’s a red flag.
    • Changes in skin texture. If you develop a rash, puckering or dimpling on the breast, that could be a sign of breast cancer. Skin changes related to breast cancer may resemble the rough skin of an orange peel.
    • Change in breast size or shape. While it’s not uncommon for someone to have one breast that’s larger than the other, any new change in breast size or shape — especially in just one breast — could indicate cancer.
    • Lump or swelling around breast, collarbone, or armpit. Swelling or lumps in the areas surrounding your breasts can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes. This may be seen before you can feel a lump in your breast.

    Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program At Ctca

    Do You Know the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?

    Thats why we developed the CTCA Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program, where our team of breast cancer experts work quickly to properly diagnose and stage each patient’s disease so she can make more informed decisions about her treatment options. Our breast cancer experts collaborate daily, allowing them to reach a diagnosis more efficiently and provide an individualized care plan designed to allow you to start treatment as soon as possible. The team also offers opportunities to enroll qualified patients in carefully selected clinical trials in areas such as immunotherapy and genomically targeted chemotherapy.

    If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of IBC and want to schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing, or chat online with a member of our team.

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    What Are The Screening Tests For Breast Cancer And Who Can Get One

    Screening tests mean checking for the presence of cancer even if there are no symptoms or signs. They can help find breast cancer early so that treatment can be initiated at the earliest.

    Breast cancer is easier to treat successfully when it has been found early and is small. Therefore, taking a regular breast cancer screening test becomes so important.

    The American Cancer Society recommends women with an average risk undergo a basic cancer screening test that includes a mammogram. Recommendations depend on their age.

    • Between 40 and 44 years: Women have the option of going or not going for a mammogram every year.
    • Between 45 and 54 years: Women should get mammograms every year.
    • 55 years and older: Women can consider a mammogram every alternate year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. They should continue doing the screening as long as they are healthy and are expected to live for at least 10 more years.

    Average risk women include those with:

    • No personal history of breast cancer.
    • No strong family history of breast cancer or a genetic change related to an increased risk of breast cancer.
    • No history of chest radiation therapy before the age of 30 years.


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