Breast Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    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.

Related 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

Other possible symptoms include

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


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

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/10/2017
Next Article

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Cancer Report Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors