Signs and symptoms of breast cancer can include swelling, cavitation, pain, nipple indentation, redness, etc.
Breast cancer is caused by abnormal growth of cells in the breast. This cancer can start in different parts of the breast. Knowing what breasts should normally look like is an important part of breast health. Although regular screening tests are important to diagnose this cancer, mammograms do not detect any type of breast cancer.
Therefore, it is very important to be aware of your breast changes and know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
Most breast cancers are diagnosed early in screening mammography before they are felt and symptoms appear.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
Perhaps one of the most well-known signs of breast cancer is a lump in the breast tissue. Although most women see a doctor after discovering a lump, they should also be aware of other changes in the appearance of the skin or nipple. Most breast cancers are diagnosed early in screening mammography before they are felt and symptoms appear. Be careful that different types of breast cancer have different symptoms. For example, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), which develops in the milk ducts, can cause a lump. Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), which develops in the mammary glands, may cause the breast to thicken.
Early warning signs of breast cancer
The symptoms of breast tumors vary from person to person. Some of the early warning signs of breast cancer include:
- Skin changes such as swelling, redness or other visible differences in one or both breasts
- Increase in size or change in the shape of the breasts
- Changes in the appearance of the tip of one or both breasts
- General pain in any part of the breast
- Sensitive lumps or nodules inside the breast
- More specific symptoms of invasive breast cancer
- Itching or inflammation of the breast
- Change the color of the breasts
- Existence of a mass or thickening of the breast
- Redness or dimming of the breast skin
Be careful these symptoms may be due to reasons other than cancer. For example, changes in breast skin tissue may be caused by eczema, and swollen lymph nodes may be caused by a breast infection or other unrelated disease. By seeing your doctor, you can be sure that the symptoms you have observed are of concern or not.
Invasive symptoms of breast cancer
- Invasive symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Existence of a mass in the breast
- Swelling of all or part of the breast, even if no lump is felt
- Burning or dulling of the skin
- Pain in the breast or nipple
- Nipple indentation
- Redness, scaling or thickening of the nipple or skin of the breast
- Nipple discharge
- Mass or swelling in the axillary lymph nodes
Symptoms of ductal carcinoma
In situ ductal carcinoma (DCIS) does not follow any specific symptoms. Rarely may a woman feel a lump in her breast or a nipple discharge. However, most cases of ductal carcinoma are diagnosed in situ by mammography.
Symptoms of lobular cancer
In situ lobular carcinoma (LCIS) is not associated with specific symptoms and is not visible on mammography. This type of cancer is only detected if the doctor performs a breast biopsy for other reasons, such as researching non-breast masses. If a person has LCIS, breast cells appear abnormal under a microscope.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) rarely causes breast lumps and may show up on mammograms. Inflammatory symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Redness, swelling and itching of the breast
- The surface of the breast may look like orange peel
- Heaviness, burning or pain in one breast
- One breast is clearly larger than the other
- Nipple indentation
- No mass is felt with breast self-examination
- Swollen lymph nodes below the arm or above the clavicle
- Presence of symptoms after a course of antibiotics
Unlike other types of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer does not cause a specific lump in the breast. Therefore, breast self-examination, clinical breast examination, or even mammography may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Even an ultrasound may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. But changes in the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye. Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can grow rapidly and the disease can spread rapidly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.
For pregnant or lactating women, symptoms such as redness, swelling, itching and pain are symptoms of a breast infection such as mastitis that can be treated with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or breastfeeding and you experience these symptoms, you should be examined by a doctor to determine the final result.
Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer
Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer depend on the part of the body where the cancer has spread and its stage. Sometimes, metastatic disease may be asymptomatic.
- If the chest wall or chest is damaged, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump in the breast or armpit.
- If the bones are damaged, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation, or loss of consciousness due to high calcium levels.
- If tumors form in the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain, or extreme tiredness.
- If the liver is involved, symptoms may include nausea, extreme tiredness, increased abdominal circumference, swelling of the legs and arms due to fluid retention, and jaundice and itchy skin.
- If breast cancer has spread to the brain or spinal cord and tumors develop, symptoms may include pain, dizziness, memory loss, headache, blurred vision, difficulty speaking, difficulty moving, or seizures.
Symptoms of breast papillary carcinoma
Although the symptoms of papillary carcinoma may not be obvious, a routine mammogram may detect its progression. For those who experience symptoms associated with this type of cancer, the following may be common:
- Mass: Papillary carcinoma is often diagnosed as a cyst or 2-3 cm mass that may be felt when examining the breast by hand.
- Nipple discharge: About 50% of papillary carcinomas occur below the nipple and lead to nipple blood secretion.
Symptoms of breast cancer in men
The symptoms of breast cancer in men can be similar to those experienced by women and may include the following:
- Presence of a lump in the breast, without pain
- Thickening of the breast
- Changes in the nipple or skin of the breast, such as fading, spotting, or redness
- Discharge of fluid from the nipple
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