12 Signs of Breast Cancer Revealed: Warning Signs To Look Out For

07 November 2023

12 signs of breast cancer revealed

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women. It is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, second only to lung cancer. 

It occurs due to the development of mutations in the breast cells, typically in the lobules or ducts. Lobules are the glands responsible for milk production while ducts are the pathways that deliver milk from the glands to the nipples.

Breast cancer may also develop in the fibrous connective tissue or fatty tissue within the breast. The early identification of cancer is crucial so that it can be addressed before it affects the lymph nodes in the armpits and other parts of the body.

The 12 signs of breast cancer revealed in this piece can help you identify potential abnormalities before they become serious.

12 Signs of Breast Cancer Revealed: Most Common Identifiers 

Different types of breast cancer manifest differently, but here are the 12 main signs to look out for:

1. Lump Formation

Feeling a lump in the breast is typically the first symptom that people notice. However, breasts undergo several changes, and lumps can be caused by other conditions such as breast cysts or fibrocystic breasts. 

A breast cancer lump is typically painless and unmovable and may have a dense texture with an irregular shape.

2. Change in the Breast’s Size or Shape

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. Even the breasts of a single person may look different. However, it is important to watch for any sudden and abnormal changes in the size or shape of the breast, particularly if there is swelling. 

3. Skin Changes

Though rare, breast cancer may manifest as skin changes that resemble an infection. These changes include discoloration, irritation, redness, flaking, dimpling, changes to the skin’s texture, and more.

4. Nipple Changes

Nipple pain, pulling, or the inversion of the nipple can be symptoms of breast cancer. 

Paget disease of the breast may also cause flattening, redness, burning, scaliness, or crustiness on the nipple that may resemble eczema.

5. Lump in the Armpit

Breast cancer typically spreads to the lymph nodes in the armpits as breast tissue reaches under the arms. If you notice a lump in your armpit, it could be a symptom of breast cancer.

6. Breast Pain

Cancerous lumps in the breast typically don’t cause any pain, though inflammatory breast cancer is an exception. When this happens, it may cause swelling, burning, or pain in one breast.

Breast pain can also often fluctuate during the menstrual cycle.

If you notice swelling and skin changes on one breast, or experience fever, inflammation, or other symptoms that indicate an infection and worsen or persist over time, it’s best to consult a doctor.

7. Swelling in the Lymph Nodes

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that can cause lymph nodes near the breast to swell. It can cause swelling in the lymph nodes near the collarbone too.

8. Nipple Rash or Itching

Your nipple may itch on occasion due to clothing, sweat, sensitivity, or irritation. However, if you experience persistent itching or a rash on your nipple, it could be due to breast cancer.

9. Unusual Discharge From the Nipple

Unusual nipple discharge that is not breast milk, particularly a bloody discharge, can be a sign of breast cancer, especially if you experience it with other symptoms.

10. Veins Growing on the Breast

If you notice the veins on your breast becoming unusually prominent, it’s best to consult a doctor as it could indicate breast cancer.

11. Skin Sores

Skin sores developing around the nipples or on the breast typically aren’t a cause for concern, but they may signify breast cancer if it’s accompanied by other troubling signs.

12. Warm Breast

If the breast feels unusually warm, it may be a cause for concern as it could indicate an infection or cancerous formation.

Breast Cancer In Men: How Common Is It?

Breast cancer is typically associated with women as it most commonly impacts them. But men have breast tissue similar to women so they can develop breast cancer though its instances are rare.

Among Blacks, breast cancer is 70 times less prevalent in men than women. Meanwhile, the condition is 100 times less common among Caucasian males compared to women according to the American Cancer Society.

Despite the relatively lower numbers for men, the severity of breast cancer for men is the same as it is for women. Additionally, the signs and symptoms are similar. Regardless of who has it, the condition requires close monitoring.

Diagnosing and Treating Breast Cancer

Doctors perform breast exams and thorough physical exams to determine if symptoms are caused by a benign breast condition or breast cancer.

They may also conduct diagnostic tests such as ultrasound, mammogram, or a breast biopsy.

Once breast cancer has been confirmed, it can be treated with the help of different surgeries such as a mastectomy, lumpectomy, axillary lymph node dissection, contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or a sentinel node biopsy.

Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy may also be used to cure breast cancer.

Final Thoughts

Early detection and prompt action are indispensable in battling breast cancer. The Islamic Medical Institute of North America (IMANA) is committed to promoting awareness about breast cancer. With the 12 signs of breast cancer revealed in this article, you can take charge of your health and identify breast cancer as soon as possible.

We understand the importance of education in improving public health. Hence, we have a wide range of resources to help you learn about medical issues that could impact you and your loved ones.