Finding a lump is probably one of the first, and most common, signs of breast cancer. But, there are many lesser-known symptoms. In fact, around one in six women diagnosed with breast cancer initially go to their doctors with a sign other than a lump.
So, ladies, while you’re performing your monthly breast self-exam (you ARE doing this, right?), keep an eye out for these abnormalities. (Please keep in mind, this is not a complete list. If you find anything that seems unusual, speak with your doctor).
1.Nipple discharge. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, nipple discharge is considered normal. And according to Mayo Clinic, it may also be associated with menstrual hormone changes and fibrocystic changes. But, breast cancer could be a possibility if the discharge contains blood, it’s spontaneous and persistent, it only affects a single duct, or you have a lump in your breast.
2.Change of breast size or shape. There are many reasons why your breasts could change size (and some women naturally have two different sized breasts). But if you notice a sudden change in shape or volume or your nipple becomes inverted, it’s time to call your doctor. Things like fullness, swelling, dimpling, or shift in shape are all signs of cancer.
3.Lump in the armpit or underarm area. According to the American Cancer Society, “swelling or lumps around your collarbone or armpits can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in those areas. The swelling may occur even before you can feel a lump in your breast.” One woman described the lump in her armpit as feeling like a “frozen pea.”
4.Red, crusty, or thickening skin around or on the breast. Mastitis, a breast infection common among women who are breastfeeding, can cause unusual changes on the breast skin, says the American Cancer Society. But if your breast starts to feel like an orange peel, the skin is purple or red, becomes scaly, or a non-healing sore appears, it could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, one of the more aggressive types of cancer.
5.Pain. Don’t worry—most breast cancers don’t cause pain. In fact, most lumps that lead to breast cancer don’t hurt at all. And if your breasts are sore, it’s most likely due to a change of hormones, your menstrual cycle, or an infection. But, as with changes in the skin, inflammatory breast cancer has been known to cause pain and tenderness in some women.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. If you have any concerns, please speak with your doctor.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we’ll bring you information about the “Cause of the Month,” including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.