A sharp pain in your breast, some small amount of tenderness, a hardly noticeable lump or nodule – all these signs can be scary. And get you worried. Which, frankly speaking, you should be. You may start wondering if it is something serious. The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. While a painless, hard mass, with irregular edges, is more likely to be cancer, breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. Generally, breast cancer shows no significant symptoms in the early stages, yet early detection can may all the difference between being a survivor or not. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass or lump or breast change checked by a health care provider experienced in diagnosing breast diseases. So, what are the signs and symptoms all women should look out for?
Recognizing the early signs
There’s a litany of early signs of breast cancer that you must look out for. These include:
Changes in the shape of the nipple or the breast
Swelling, shrinkage, hollowness, anywhere in the breast or nipples is a danger sign.
Constant breast pain that continues after your periods
Continuous pain in the breasts or armpits can be another symptom of breast cancer. Don’t wait for it to grow, and the pain to get worse. Make an appointment with the doctor.
A new lump in the breast
Swollen breasts or a lump or nodule in the breast, could point to breast cancer. If you have felt that in your breasts, visit the doctor immediately.
Nipple discharge that is clear, red, brown, or yellow, from one breast
Liquid discharge from a breast might be a sign of danger. The discharge could be bloodlike or clear liquid. If a new mother is not lactating period but is still discharging a milky liquid, it would be a very good idea to visit the doctor. Just to make sure that there’s nothing wrong.
Unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
Scales and redness or sudden asymmetry in skin of the breast can be a negative indication. Change in the skin of the breast to orange peel texture and widened pores are significant symptoms of breast cancer.
Swelling or a lump around the collarbone or under the arm
Breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone, causing a lump or swelling there – even before the original tumor in the breast tissue has grown large enough to be felt. Swollen lymph nodes should also be checked by your doctor. A hard lump with irregular edges is also likely to be cancerous
Later signs of breast cancer could include:
Retraction, or inward turning of the nipple
Enlargement of one breast
Dimpling of the breast surface
An existing lump that gets bigger
Weight loss for no reason at all
Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
Visible veins on the breast
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However, a cautionary note here would not be out of place. Most of us associate pain with something seriously wrong, so when we feel pain or tenderness in the breast, we often assume it’s caused by breast cancer. But, breast pain is rarely the first (noticeable) symptom of breast cancer. There are many factors can cause the pain. Breast pain can also be caused by:
Hormonal fluctuations caused by menstruation
Certain birth control pills
An ill-fitting bra
Over-large breasts. This pain may be accompanied by neck, shoulder, or back pain