Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that originates from the cells of the breast. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women. In fact, it is estimated that one in eight women in the U.S. is affected by breast cancer and it is considered as the second leading cause of death for women in the U.S. However, breast cancer can affect men too but very rarely and only about 10 men in a million develop breast cancer. Survival rates for breast cancer can be improved with early detection of the disease hence it is important to know early breast cancer symptoms. Here is a list of common symptoms of breast cancer.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can cause different changes in the breasts. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Swelling in the breast and sensation of warmth in the breast
- Nipple tenderness and pain in the nipple
- Non-tender lump in the breast
- A lump or thickening in the breast or armpit area
- Change in the shape or size of the breast
- New pain developed in one spot
- Redness, dimpling or puckering of the skin over the breast
- A nipple turned inward or retracted nipple
- Nipple discharge that can be bloody, yellow or green
- Scaly or pitted skin on the breast, nipple or areola, that appears like the skin of an orange
- Breast ulcer
- Breast pain
- A lump present in the area above the collarbone
Breast cancer is classified into several types according to the area of the breast where the cancer begins. Some of breast cancer types include ductal carcinoma (the most common type), lobular carcinoma and invasive or infiltrating breast carcinoma that spread beyond the primary tumor site to other parts of the breast and body. Rare types of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), that occurs in the skin and presents itself without a lump, and Paget’s disease of the nipple.
Each type of breast cancer causes different set of symptoms. Inflammatory breast cancer is characterized by red and swollen breast that appears to be inflamed. It is also accompanied with persistent itching, unusual warmth in the breast, enlargement of the breast, inward turning of the nipple, discoloration of the breast and enlarged lymph nodes under the arm or in the collarbone area. This type of breast cancer accounts for 5% of all breast malignancies and is usually diagnosed in younger women.
Women should perform regular self-exam of the breasts as well as routine mammogram screening because breast cancer initially rarely causes symptoms. This especially applies to women with a high risk of breast cancer such as those with family history of the disease.