Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Early Symptoms & Signs

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Symptoms & Signs

Early symptoms and signs of breast cancer are typically not recognizable; this is why screening mammography is valuable to detect cancers at a very early stage. Even larger breast cancers do not always produce symptoms and signs. When symptoms do occur, the most common symptom is

  • a lump or mass in the breast.

Other possible symptoms include

  • nipple discharge or redness,
  • changes in the skin such as puckering or dimpling (like an orange skin),
  • swelling of part of the breast.

Certain types of cancers known as inflammatory breast cancers may produce redness and warmth of the affected breast, but these are not common signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Breast pain is also not a typical symptom, but breast or nipple pain may occur in certain cases.

Breast cancer causes and risk factors

While there are many risk factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer, the exact reason for the development of cancer is unknown. A family history of breast cancer and the presence of certain inherited genes (for example, BRCA1, BRCA2) increase the risk for developing breast cancer.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2015

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United States. National Cancer Institute. "Breast Cancer." <>.

Main Article on Breast Cancer Symptoms and Signs
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Breast Cancer Early Symptoms and Signs
  • Breast Lump or Mass
  • Breast Pain
  • Breast Swelling
  • Change in Breast Size or Shape
  • Dimpling or Puckering of the Breast Skin
  • Bloody Nipple Discharge
  • Nipple Pain
  • Nipple Inversion
  • Redness of the Breast Skin
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