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Can itching be a sign of breast cancer?

Itching can be a sign of breast cancer, but this is very rare. 

Itchiness of the breast is not usually due to cancer. But it can be more common with a particular type of cancer called inflammatory breast cancer.

A condition that affects the nipple (called Paget's Disease) can also cause itching.

Inflammatory breast cancer

With this type of cancer, the area of skin over the tumour can become red, inflamed, painful and itchy.

Paget's disease

This condition develops in the nipple or the darker area of skin around it (the areola). It usually first appears as a red, scaly rash of the skin. There might also be some discharge or bleeding from the nipple. 

Paget’s disease is a sign that there might be breast cancer in the tissues behind the nipple. Or there might be carcinoma in situ. This means that there are cancer cells in the biopsy but they are completely contained within the lining of the breast ducts.

When to see your doctor

If you have a patch of itching skin, it is more likely to be eczema or some other type of skin condition. But it is important to get it checked out by your GP as soon as possible. Inflammatory breast cancer can be quite a fast growing cancer so the earlier it is diagnosed the better.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.