The signs of breast cancer can be subtle and identifying them early on can help your prognosis. It's important to get frequent breast evaluations to ensure your body is healthy and strong — and if you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away.
According to the American Cancer Society, the most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass on the breast. The lumps can be painful or painless and are tender, soft, or round, though other cancers tend to produce hard, asymmetrical masses.
Someone with aggressive inflammatory breast cancer may notice dimpling on the skin of their breast. According to Medical News Today, dimpling results from swelling due to a buildup of lymph fluid inside the breast.
Breast cancer can sometimes be painless, Medical News Today reports. But sometimes it's not. If you feel any tenderness or unusual discomfort in your nipples or breasts, make an appointment with your doctor for a breast evaluation.
Many patients with breast cancer have trouble staying or falling asleep. A review published in HHS Public Access reports that insomnia is a common complaint for those with breast cancer and results in a "host of debilitating consequences" like negative mood, difficulty concentrating memory problems, and poor health.
Coughing is a reflex that helps the body heal itself or get rid of harmful particles. According to Healthline, coughs that are dry and coupled with a shortness of breath can be a sign of stage 4 breast cancer, in which the cough has spread to the lungs.
The texture of an orange peels is thick, scaly, and dry. Well, your breast may begin to feel like this if you have breast cancer. Inflammation in the skin cells can lead to skin thickening and scaling around the nipple and areola, Medical News Today reports.
The "orange peel" texture of your breast can be quite itchy. Itching, tingling, or redness is also a sign of a rare type of breast cancer called Paget Disease, which accounts for 1 to 4% of all cases of breast cancer.
According to WebMD, fatigue is one of the most commonly reported side effects of breast cancer. Fatigue is a lack of energy that doesn't go away — no matter how long or well you sleep. Since cancer cells take essential nutrients away from your healthy cells, this can lead to extreme tiredness.
According to the American Cancer Society, unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more can be one of the first signs of cancer. A study published in Acta Oncologica found that 84% of patients developing recurrence breast cancer experienced unexplained weight loss.
Lymph nodes are the small structures of the immune system that work to remove harmful substances from the body. The lymph node region of the affected breast is the first place cancer spreads to after it leaves the breast, Medical News Today reports. You may notice swelling that feels like small, firm bumps in the armpit or collarbone.
According to Healthline, breast irregularity is common, affecting more than half of women, but usually they're similar in density and structure. If a mammogram reveals asymmetry in density, your doctor will need to investigate if it's due to a mass.
According to Breast Cancer News, if your nipple inverts or sinks into your chest, this can be a sign of breast cancer. It's caused by inflammation or scarring of the tissue behind the nipple. However, we should note that other conditions can lead to nipple inversion, like trauma, genetics, or anything that causes excessive inflammation.
Even though this isn't one of the more common sighs of breast cancer, any form of pain (including in your back) could indicate that breast cancer has spread in your body.
Swelling, inflammation, or redness that affects at least one third of the breast can signify a rare and aggressive cancer, called inflammatory breast cancer, the National Cancer Institute reports. These cancer cells block lymph nodes in the skin of the breasts, which gives them a red or inflamed appearance.
Inflammatory breast cancer can cause swelling in and around your breasts, collar bone, or armpit. Stage IV breast cancer can also result in swelling, according to the American Cancer Society.
It's common for breastfeeding mothers to have a milk-like discharge from their nipples — but any other breast discharge is a red flag. According to Medical News Today, nipple discharge that signifies breast cancer could be thick or thin, and white, red, yellow, or green.
Sometimes, those with breast cancer develop an ulcerating wound, which are tumors that grow up through the skin and resemble fungi. Ulcerating wounds appear on the breast and develop from a lump or tumor in the breast tissue. Though they are rare in breast cancer patients, ulcerating wounds are more likely to develop in stage IIIB breast cancer, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
According to Cancer.org, most women with breast cancer don't experience sharp pain in their breasts. However, some do. If you are experiencing pain that's persistent and not related to your menstrual cycle, reach out to your doctor.
Veiny breasts are common in some instances like breastfeeding, especially when they're filled with breast milk. If the new veins are accompanied by inflammation, a change in the size of the breast, or an "orange peel" texture, Healthline says it could signify inflammatory breast cancer.
If your breasts rapidly begin to change, (meaning become inflamed, swollen, and/or tender), then you may have inflammatory breast cancer. According to Mayo Clinic, inflammatory breast cancer develops very quickly, and you should your doctor for a breast evaluation right away.