The early stages of breast cancer often have few, if any, symptoms. There is usually no pain. In fact, breast pain is rarely, if ever, an indication of breast cancer. Most symptoms, or breast changes, are due to a benign breast condition rather than cancer, but you should tell your provider if you notice any change in your breasts. Dr. Malone, can you tell us about some of these breast changes?
Definitely, Dr. Patel. Some symptoms that can be warning signs for breast cancer include:
- A lump, hard knot, or thickening inside the breast or in the underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening of the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- An itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- A nipple pulled inward into the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly, and
- New, persistent pain in one spot
Breast lumps or lumpiness are fairly common and are usually not a cause for concern. Breast tissue has a naturally bumpy texture. When lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast, and both breasts feel the same, the lumps are usually just part of the normal breast tissue. But if you find a lump that feels harder or different from the rest of the breast, or if you discover a lump that wasn’t there before, you should notify your provider. Most lumps are not breast cancer, but it’s important to have benign conditions diagnosed and treated as well.
Some women have breast lumps before their monthly period. These lumps usually go away on their own at the end of the cycle. Other women who take menopausal hormones may notice lumps as well.