Breast Cancer

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Quick GuideBreast Cancer Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Breast Cancer

What are breast cancer symptoms and signs?

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast. In addition, the following are possible signs of breast cancer:

  • Thickening or lump in the breast that feels different from the surrounding area
  • Inverting of the nipple (as a change from previous appearance)
  • Nipple discharge or redness (especially any bloody discharge)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Swelling of part of the breast or dimpling
  • Changes in the skin of the breast

One should discuss these or any other concerning findings with a health-care professional.

What tests do physicians use to diagnose breast cancer?

Although breast cancer can be diagnosed by the above signs and symptoms, the use of screening mammography has made it possible to detect many of the cancers early before they cause any symptoms.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has the following recommendations for breast cancer screenings:

Women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening between 40-44 years of age. Women age 45 and older should have a screening mammogram every year until age 54. Women 55 years of age and older should have biennial screening or have the opportunity to continue screening annually. Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of 10 years or longer.

Mammograms are a very good screening tool for breast cancer. As in any test, mammograms have limitations and will miss some cancers. An individual's family history and mammogram and breast exam results should be discussed with a health-care provider.

The ACS does not recommend clinical screening exams in women of any age.

Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderate risk (15%-20%) should talk to their doctor about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/25/2016
VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Breast Cancer - Symptoms and Signs

    What symptoms and signs did you experience when you developed breast cancer?

    Post View 13 Comments
  • Breast Cancer - Stages

    What stage was your breast cancer when you were diagnosed?

    Post View 6 Comments
  • Breast Cancer - Type

    What type of breast cancer do you have?

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Breast Cancer - Treatment

    What kind of treatment did you have for breast cancer?

    Post View 11 Comments
  • Breast Cancer - Survival Rate

    What is the prognosis for your breast cancer?

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Breast Cancer - Diagnosis

    How was your breast cancer detected?

    Post View 25 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors