Regular breast exams are important as early breast cancer usually does not cause symptoms.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer may help save a woman’s life. When the disease is discovered early, there are more treatment options and a better chance for a cure.
Most breast lumps are not cancerous. Yet the most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or thickening in the breast. Often, the lump is painless. Other potential signs of breast cancer include:
•A spontaneous clear or bloody discharge from the nipple, often associated with a breast lump
•Retraction or indentation of the nipple
•A change in the size or contours of the breast
•Any flattening or indentation of the skin over the breast
•Redness or pitting of the skin over the breast, like the skin of an orange
A number of conditions other than breast cancer can cause breasts to change in size or feel. Breast tissue changes naturally during pregnancy and a woman’s menstrual cycle. Other possible causes of non-cancerous (benign) breast changes include fibrocystic changes, cysts, fibroadenomas, infection or injury.
If a woman finds a lump or other change in her breast — even if a recent mammogram was normal — she should see her doctor for evaluation. If she hasn’t yet gone through menopause, she may want to wait through one menstrual cycle before seeing her doctor. If the change hasn't gone away after a month, have it evaluated promptly.