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Symptoms

Find out about the symptoms of breast cancer and when to see your doctor.

These symptoms are more often caused by other medical conditions. But if you have any of them it is important to see your doctor. 

Breast lump

A new lump or thickening in your breast or armpit could be a sign of cancer. Many women have breast lumps and 9 out of 10 (90%) of these are not cancer. They are called benign lumps.

It’s important to get any breast lump checked out by your doctor.

Change in size, shape or feel of a breast

Your breast might look bigger or have a different shape than usual. It might feel different. Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender before their period.

Get to know the size, shape and feel of your breasts. See your doctor if you notice any changes or anything that is unusual for you.

Breast pain

Breast pain is very common and it’s not normally due to cancer. You might get pain in one or both breasts for a while, which goes after a time. There might be no obvious reason for this pain, even if you have a lot of tests.

See your doctor if you have breast pain.

Skin changes

Skin changes include puckering, dimpling, a rash, or redness of the skin.

The skin on your breast might look like orange peel. Or the skin might feel a different texture than usual. This can be caused by other things than cancer but get anything that is not normal for you checked out by your doctor.

Change in the position of your nipple

One nipple might turn in or sink into the breast. It might look or feel different to usual.

Fluid leaking from your nipple

Fluid leaking from a nipple in a woman who isn't pregnant or breast feeding can be a sign of cancer. But it can also be caused by other medical conditions.

See your doctor if you have leakage from a nipple and you aren't pregnant or breast feeding.

Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms

A rare type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer can have different symptoms to other types.

Your whole breast might look red and inflamed and feel sore. The breast might feel hard and the skin might look like orange peel.

See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

Paget’s disease of the breast

This is a rare skin condition that is sometimes a sign of an underlying breast cancer. The symptoms are a red, scaly rash on the breast. It can be itchy and looks a bit like eczema. It is sometimes mistaken for eczema at first.

See your doctor if you have any changes in the skin of your breast.

When to see your doctor

You should see your doctor if you have:

  • a change in the size, shape or feel of a breast
  • a new lump or thickening in a breast or armpit
  • skin changes such as puckering, dimpling, a rash or redness of the skin
  • fluid leaking from a nipple and you aren't pregnant or breastfeeding
  • changes in the position of a nipple
  • breast pain

Your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer but it is important to get them checked by a doctor.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.