Women Breast Cancer; Signs and Symptoms of breast cancers; how do breast cancer presents?
Medical Tutors Limited
October 30, 2019

12:44 PM

At its earliest stage, breast cancer may not show any signs or symptoms, but it is recommended that women have their breast screening exercise done annually before it presents itself.

Knowing how one’s breast look like is quite important for every woman notice. This would help to improve their knowledge or bring to their notice if there is any form of changes, which might help to detect breast cancer. Although having regular screening to check for any form of breast cancer is important, yet mammograms do not find all sort of breast cancer. Therefore, knowing your body most especially the breast is important for all women.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or round. They can even be painful. The following symptoms and signs could signify the presence of breast cancer in women.

  1. Lump In Your Breast Or Underarm

A lump in your breast or underarm that doesn’t go away after your period. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Lumps associated with breast cancer are usually painless, although some may cause a prickly sensation. Lumps are usually visible on a mammogram long before you can see or feel them.

  1. Skin Texture Changes

Breast cancer can cause changes and inflammation in skin cells that can lead to texture changes. Examples of these texture changes include:

  • scaly skin around the nipple and areola, as though the skin is sunburned or extremely dry
  • skin thickening in any part of the breast

These changes may also cause itching, which people often associate with breast cancer, although it is not common.

These skin changes may be symptomatic of a rare breast cancer called Paget's disease.

Texture changes can also occur as a result of benign skin conditions, including dermatitis and eczema.

  1. Breast Changes (Redness)

Breast cancer can cause changes to the skin that may make it appear discolored or even bruised. The skin may be red or purple or have a bluish tint.

If a person has not experienced recent trauma to the breast to explain these changes, they should see their doctor. It is also vital to seek medical advice if breast discoloration does not disappear, even if trauma was the cause.

A reddish, pitted surface like the skin of an orange could be a sign of advanced breast cancer.

  1. Swelling In The Breast, Collarbone Or Armpit

Swelling in your armpit or collarbone could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Lymph nodes are small, rounded collections of immune system tissue that filter fluid and capture potentially harmful cells. These include bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. If a cancer cell leaves the breast, the first place it travels to is the underarm lymph node region on the same side as the affected breast. This can lead to swelling in this area. In addition to swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, a person may notice them around the collarbone. They usually feel like small, firm, swollen lumps and may be tender to the touch.

Breast cancer can cause the entire breast or an area of the breast to swell. There may not be a distinct lump after this swelling, but the breast may be different in size than the other breast.

Although it is possible for people to have breasts that are slightly different in size at all times, this swelling would cause a change from their usual breast size. The skin may also feel tight due to the swelling.

  1. Nipple Discharge

A person may observe discharge from the nipple, which can be thin or thick and can range in color from clear to milky to yellow, green, or red.

It is normal for people who are breastfeeding to have a milky discharge from the nipples, but it is advisable to see a doctor about any other nipple discharge.

Although most nipple discharge is noncancerous, it can signify breast cancer in some people.

Other possible reasons for nipple discharge include:

  • breast infections
  • a side effect of birth control pills
  • a side effect of taking certain medications
  • variations in body physiology
  • certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disease
  1. Nipple Changes

Breast cancer can cause various forms of changes to nipple of a woman’s breast. These changes include dimpling, nipple retraction or invasion, some sorts of itching or burning.

  • Dimpling: This can sometimes be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, an aggressive type of breast. Cancer cells can cause a buildup of lymph fluid in the breast that leads to swelling as well as dimpling or pitted skin. It is essential that anyone who notices skin dimpling speaks with a doctor.
  • Nipple Inversion or Retraction: Breast cancer can cause cell changes behind the nipple. These changes can result in the nipple inverting and reversing inward into the breast or it may look different in terms of its size.

The appearance of the nipples can often alter during ovulation or other parts of the menstrual cycle, but people should see a doctor about any new nipple changes.


  • Early stage, stage 0, or noninvasive breast cancer. The disease is localized to the breast with no evidence of spread to the lymph nodes (doctors call this carcinoma in situ).
  • Stage I breast cancer. The cancer is 2 centimeters or less in size and hasn't spread anywhere.
  • Stage IIA breast cancer. The tumor is:
    • Smaller than 2 centimeters across with underarm lymph node involvement.
    • Larger than 2 but less than 5 centimeters across without lymph node involvement.
  • Stage IIB breast cancer. A tumor that’s:
    • Larger than 5 centimeters across without underarm lymph nodes that tests positive for cancer.
    • Larger than 2 but less than 5 centimeters across with lymph node involvement.
  • Stage IIIA breast cancer or locally advanced breast cancer:
    • A tumor larger than 5 centimeters that has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm or near the breastbone.
    • Any size tumor with cancerous lymph nodes that stick to one another or surrounding tissue.
  • Stage IIIB breast cancer. A tumor of any size that has spread to the skin or chest wall.
  • Stage IIIC breast cancer. A tumor of any size that has spread more extensively and involves more lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer. A tumor, regardless of size, that has spread to places far away from the breast, such as bones, lungs, liver, brain, or distant lymph nodes.


Breast cancer can cause signs and symptoms that include changes to the skin on and around the breast; therefore, people should not panic or be fearful when they notice breast changes. Aging, changes in hormone levels, and other factors can lead to breast changes throughout a person's lifetime.

However, people should be proactive about their health and visit a doctor to determine the cause of any breast symptoms.

While many conditions can potentially cause breast changes, including cysts, infections, eczema, and dermatitis, a person should not automatically rule out breast cancer. Seeing a doctor for evaluation and diagnosis can help determine whether or not any breast changes are cause for concern.




[Next Article on Breast Cancer: Early Detection of Breast Cancer (Signs and Symptoms)]


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