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Invasive Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Treatments, Prognosis

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What are the signs of invasive breast cancer?

Breast cancer may have no signs or symptoms at all, especially during the early stages. As the cancer progresses, you may notice one or more of the following warning signs:

  • A lump or thickening that persists through the menstrual cycle in or near the breast or in the underarm
  • A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea
  • A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
  • A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple
  • A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple -- dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed
  • Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple
  • A change in shape or position of the nipple
  • An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast
  • A marble-like hardened area under the skin

You may find these changes when you do a monthly breast self-exam. By doing a regular self-exam of your breast, you can become familiar with the normal monthly changes that your breasts undergo.

What increases the risk of invasive breast cancer?

Breast cancer can happen at any age. But the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. According to the American Cancer Society, one out of eight invasive breast cancer diagnoses are given to women under age 45. And two out of every three women with invasive breast cancer are 55 or older when they are first diagnosed.

Other risk factors include race, geography, socioeconomic status, family history, genetics, exposure to radiation, obesity, alcohol intake, and diet.

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