What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

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Answered by: Scott, An Expert in the Do I Have Breast Cancer? Category
Seven Signs That You May Have Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women in the United States, and according to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Unfortunately, 1 in 37 women will also lose their lives to this same cancer. If caught early, however, breast cancer need not be fatal and is often survivable. Here are five signs that you may have breast cancer and should be checked out by a doctor immediately.

A Lump in your Breast.

A lump in the breast or in your underarm area is the most common sign of breast cancer. These lumps are usually hard, but painless. Irregular edges often mean that the lump may be cancerous, but a dangerous lump may also have smooth edges.

Nipple Discharge.

Nipple discharge, especially if it contains blood when squeezed, can be an early sign of breast cancer. Although there may be many possible explanations other than cancer, cancer is a definite possibility and you should be checked out.

Changes in the Shape of your Nipple.

If your nipple becomes inverted like a belly button or like something is gripping it from the inside and pulling it back, it is often one of the symptoms of breast cancer. This is usually seen in only one breast rather than both breasts. Breast cancer can also change the shape of your nipples into other abnormal shapes.

Swelling, Redness, or Rash.

If you experience swelling, itching or a rash on the breast and skin ointments and creams are ineffective, it may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. If you also have swelling around the collarbone, it could be a sign that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and you should be examined as soon as possible.

Dimpling of the Breast Skin.

If you notice dimpling or puckering on the skin of your breast, be sure to see your doctor immediately. Keep in mind that this dimpling can be very subtle and may indicate a tumor. The cancer cells can block the lymph channels and cause a build-up of fluid in the breast which causes the dimpling. This dimpling is also often accompanied by swelling.

Thickening Skin.

If you experience thickening of the breast skin and are breast feeding, it could be an infection called mastitis. If you are not breast feeding, however, it could be inflammatory breast cancer. Either way, you should see your doctor.

Breast Pain.

Most breast cancer is painless at first. Pain that is persistent and severe, however, or is accompanied by other symptoms of breast cancer, may be a sign of a more advanced cancer and should be checked out immediately.

If you experience any of these signs of possible breast cancer, or if you have other reasons to be concerned that you may have cancer, you should make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. Breast cancer, when caught early, is often treatable. If you wait, however, treatment becomes more complicated and can be less effective, or you might even lose your life.

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