Breast Cancer Symptoms and Warning Signs

In its early stages, breast cancer usually has no symptoms. As a tumor grows, you may notice these signs:

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.

2. Swelling in the armpit, collarbone, or breast

Swelling in your armpit or collarbone could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. This swelling may come before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it. Swelling in your breast might signal an aggressive type of cancer called inflammatory breast cancer.

3. Pain or tenderness in your  breast

Although lumps are usually painless, pain or tenderness can be a sign of breast cancer.

4. A flat or indented area on your breast

This could be a tumor that you can’t see or feel.

5. Breast changes

You might notice a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.

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

6. A change in your nipple

It could:

  • Pull inward
  • Get dimpled
  • Burn
  • Itch
  • Develop sores

7. Nipple discharge

You might notice an unusual discharge from your nipple. It could be clear, bloody, or another color. It's usually caused by benign conditions, but it could be due to cancer, too.

8. A marble-like area under the skin

This area will feel different from any other part of either breast.

Call Your Doctor About Breast Cancer If

  • One or both breasts develop an abnormal lump or pain that doesn’t go away, or look or feel abnormal. The cause often is something other than cancer, but a doctor should check it.
  • You have swollen lymph nodes in your armpits. Any swelling could be from cancer.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on March 05, 2019



American Cancer Society: “Breast Cancer Symptoms: What You Need to Know.”

American Cancer Society: "Learn about Cancer: Breast Cancer."

National Cancer Institute: "Breast Cancer."

CDC: "Breast Cancer."

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