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One of the most common symptoms of breast cancer is a lump. But what about other potential symptoms of breast cancer that you may not be as familiar with?

First Step: Know Your Breasts

Mayo Clinic advises that you should become familiar with what your breasts usually look and feel like. This way, it’ll be easier to notice any changes, so that you can have them examined by your doctor as early as possible.

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“Breast cancer can lead to a variety of symptoms,” says Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, a breast cancer physician at Mayo Clinic. “The most obvious is a breast lump. But other symptoms include skin changes on your breast, such as redness, dimpling or puckering of the skin. Breast cancer also can cause a skin rash that looks similar to mastitis — an infection of the breast tissue that most often affects women who are breast-feeding.  If you find a new rash or breast redness, and you are not breast-feeding, that should be evaluated by your doctor.”

According to Mayo Clinic, breast cancer can lead to a variety of other symptoms, such as:

1. Nipple Changes. 

This includes a nipple that turns inward, inverts, or becomes flatter than usual.

2. Nipple Discharge.

Discharge from a nipple also may signal breast cancer. One form of breast cancer in particular, called intraductal carcinoma, may cause breast discharge.

It’s important to note that both abnormal and normal nipple discharge can be clear, yellow, white, or even green in color.

3. Texture changes.

Redness, dimpling or puckering of the skin are also common breast cancer symptoms.

4. Rash.

Breast cancer can cause a rash that looks similar to mastitis — an infection of the breast tissue that most often affects women who are breast feeding. If you have a rash like this, and you aren’t breast feeding, then talk to your doctor.

5. Breast Pain.

Breast cancer actually doesn’t usually cause pain. In fact, less than 10 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer report pain as a symptom. But, this said, if you have breast pain that lasts and seems to involve one area of the breast, have it checked. It could be a symptom of either cancer or another type of breast condition.

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It May Not Be Cancer…

Although some breast changes may be symptoms of breast cancer, it is worth noting that they can happen for many other reasons, as well.

For some, these changes could be symptoms of another underlying problem. Or they may simply be normal changes that don’t indicate any problem at all.

According to Mayo Clinic, many women’s breasts change slightly over the course of a month, especially women who have fibrocystic changes of the breast. This is where the breasts feel more tender or lumpier one to two weeks before your period starts. These changes often involve the entire breast and both breasts. If you find that things don’t return to normal after a week or two, mention the situation to your doctor.

In general, if you suspect a change isn’t normal, do not ignore it. Make an appointment to have it checked. Remember, the sooner you know what you’re dealing with, the sooner you can do something about it.

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Breast Cancer Doesn’t Always Cause Symptoms…

Remember, too, that in its earliest stages, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms at all. In many cases, mammography is the key to early detection…before symptoms even become noticeable.

To best ensure your breast health, Mayo Clinic recommends that you:

  • Be aware of what is normal and what is not for your body
  • Check for breast changes often
  • Follow the guidelines for regular mammograms
  • See your doctor if you notice any unusual breast changes

“Taking these steps will help detect breast cancer earlier,” says Dr. Pruthi.

For more information on breast cancer, visit Mayo Clinic’s website at www.mayoclinic.org.


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