Breast cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. The symptoms often appear when the tumor grows large enough to be felt as a lump in the breast or when the cancer spreads to surrounding tissues and organs.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a hard lump or thickening in the breast. It may feel like it is attached to the skin or the surrounding breast tissue. The lump is painless and has uneven edges. However, it can be tender, soft, and rounded. A lump that is painful is more often a symptom of a non-cancerous condition. For this reason, it’s important to have anything unusual checked by your doctor.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast, especially if it only occur in one breast
- Changes to the nipple, such as a nipple that suddenly starts to point inward (called an inverted nipple)
- Changes in the skin of breast such as dimpling, puckering or redness
- Changes to the direction of nipple such as a nipple that starts to point inward or sink into the breast when it normally points out.
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
- Breast or nipple pain
These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions such as an infection or a cyst. It’s important to get any breast changes checked by a doctor if you have them.