Breast Cancer Home > Breast Cancer Symptoms

Examples of breast cancer symptoms include changes in breast tissue, changes in how the breast or nipple looks, and nipple tenderness and discharge. Early signs and symptoms do not usually include pain. Not everyone with breast cancer will have early symptoms, which is why screening tests are so important. In addition, other diseases can share the same symptoms.

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms: An Introduction

Not everyone with breast cancer will have early symptoms of the disease. That is why breast cancer screening is so important. Screening for the disease before symptoms appear can help doctors find and treat the cancer early. Also, breast cancer treatment is more likely to be effective when the disease is detected early.

Common Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Common breast cancer symptoms include:
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels
  • Nipple tenderness
  • A change in how the breast or nipple looks
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast
  • Nipple discharge (fluid).
Early symptoms usually do not include pain.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms

In a rare type of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer, the lymph vessels around the breast become blocked. Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include a red, swollen, and warm breast. The skin of the breast may also appear pink, purple, or bruised, and it may have ridges or appear pitted, like the skin of an orange (often referred to as peau d'orange). These symptoms often occur quickly over a period of weeks.
Another possible symptom of inflammatory breast cancer is swollen lymph nodes under the arm, above the collarbone, or in both places. In many cases, a tumor cannot be felt, and may not be detected using a mammogram.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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