Warning signs of breast cancer
See your health care provider if you notice any of these warning signs of breast cancer:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
Breast lumps or lumpiness
Many women’s breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture that varies from one woman to another. For some women, the lumpiness is more pronounced than for others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry. If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, it is likely just normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast tissue (or the tissue of the other breast) or that feel like a change may be a concern. This type of lump is more likely to be breast cancer, though some benign breast
conditions (such as cysts and fibroadenomas) can cause similar changes. See your health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump or change that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump or change that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something that is different from what you felt before
If you are unsure whether you should have a lump checked, it is best to see
your provider. Although a lump may be nothing to worry about, you will have the
peace of mind it has been checked.
Learn more about benign breast conditions.
Liquid leaking from your nipple (nipple discharge) can be troubling, but it
is rarely a sign of breast cancer. Discharge can be your body's natural
reaction when the nipple is squeezed. However, the following may be signs of a
more serious condition, such as breast cancer:
- Discharge occurs without squeezing the nipple
- Discharge occurs in only one breast
- Discharge has blood in it
- Discharge is clear (not milky)
Nipple discharge can also be caused by an infection or other condition that
needs medical treatment. For these reasons, if you have any nipple discharge,
see your health care provider.