Perhaps the most recognized symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast tissue. While many women go to the doctor after finding a lump, every woman should also be aware of other changes to the breast or nipple.
With the different types of breast cancer come a variety of related symptoms. For example, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), which forms in the milk ducts, may cause a distinct breast lump that you can feel. Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), which forms in milk-producing glands, may cause a thickening in the breast.Early warning signs of breast cancer
Symptoms of breast tumors vary from person to person. Some common, early warning signs of breast cancer include:
Symptoms more specific to invasive breast cancer are:
It"s important to remember that other, benign conditions may have caused these changes. For example, changes to the skin texture on the breast may be caused by a skin condition like eczema, and swollen lymph nodes may be caused by an infection in the breast or another, unrelated illness. Seeing a doctor for an evaluation will help you determine whether something you notice is cause for concern.
Invasive breast cancer symptoms may include:
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) does not cause any symptoms. Rarely, a woman may feel a lump in the breast or have nipple discharge. However, most cases of DCIS are detected with a mammogram.Lobular carcinoma symptoms
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) does not cause symptoms and cannot be seen with a mammogram. This condition is usually found when a doctor is doing a breast biopsy for another reason, such as to investigate an unrelated breast lump. If a person has LCIS, the breast cells will appear abnormal under a microscope.
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on a mammogram. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer usually does not cause a distinct lump in the breast. Therefore, a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, or even a mammogram may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Ultrasounds may also miss inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can develop rapidly, and the disease can progress quickly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.
For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, redness, swelling, itchiness and soreness are often signs of a breast infection such as mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or nursing and you develop these symptoms, your doctor should test for inflammatory breast cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body to which the cancer has spread and its stage. Sometimes, metastatic disease may not cause any symptoms.
Although papillary carcinoma may not be present, a routine mammogram may detect its development. For those who do experience symptoms related to this type of cancer, the following may be common:
Mass: Papillary carcinoma is most often detected as a cyst or lump of about 2 cm to 3 cm in size that may be felt with the hand during a breast self-exam.
Nipple discharge: About 50 percent of papillary carcinomas occur beneath the nipple, resulting in bloody nipple discharge.Triple-negative breast cancer symptoms
Although triple-negative breast cancer does not look different from other breast cancer, it has several unique characteristics, including:
Receptor status: Tests that detect receptors for estrogen, progesterone and HER2 will be negative, which means hormone therapy, a traditional breast cancer treatment, is not effective. Instead, triple-negative breast cancer treatment options will include chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation.
More aggressive: A greater tendency to spread and recur after treatment compared to other breast cancer types. This risk decreases after the first few years following therapy.
Cell type and grade: Triple-negative breast cancer cells tend to be “basal-like,” meaning that they resemble the basal cells lining the breast ducts. The cells may also be higher grade, which means that they no longer resemble normal, healthy cells.Male breast cancer symptoms
Male breast cancer symptoms can be similar to those experienced by women and may include:
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