Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

Breast Cancer — Do You Know These 8 Symptoms?

THE MOST COMMON BREAST CANCER SYMPTOM is a palpable lump in the breast, but many other symptoms are associated with the disease. Today we explore 8 symptoms of breast cancer.

“Having had cancer, one important thing to know is you’re still the same person at the end. You’re stripped down to near zero. But most people come out the other end feeling more like themselves than ever.” — Kylie Minogue.

Early breast cancer detection optimizes the odds of survival. While regular screening tests for breast cancer are important, mammograms do not find every breast cancer.

It can be helpful for you to know the normal look and feel of your breasts. If changes occur, you may more easily spot them.

Let’s get right to my top 8 symptoms:

1. A new lump

A new lump is the most common symptom of breast cancer. While a painless, firm mass with irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, breast cancers can also be soft, round, or associated with discomfort or pain.

2. Swelling (with or without a lump)

Some individuals with cancer experience swelling or all or part of their breast.

3. Skin dimpling

Breast cancer is sometimes associated with dimpling. Uncommonly, the skin may take on the appearance of an orange peel, a condition known as peau d’orange.

4. Pain

Breast or nipple pain can be a symptom of breast cancer.

5. Nipple retraction

The nipple may turn inward in some cases of breast cancer.

6. Skin that is red, dry, flaking, thick, or itchy

Sometimes, the skin of the breast or nipple can change, reflecting cancer.

7. Nipple discharge

A nipple discharge (not breast milk) warrants a discussion with a healthcare provider.

8. Swollen nodes

If the lymph nodes in your underarm (axilla) or near the collarbone are larger than normal, this can sometimes be a sign of the regional spread of breast cancer. This symptom may or may not be associated with changes in the breast.

Please remember that non-cancerous (benign) conditions may cause these symptoms. Nevertheless, if you have any concerning symptoms, please get in touch with an experienced healthcare professional for an evaluation.

Finally, watching for symptoms does not substitute for appropriate screening. Mammograms can often detect breast cancer before any symptoms emerge.

Thank you for joining me in this brief look at breast cancer symptoms. It is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

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Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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