Know the signs of breast cancer

Breast cancer is a common health concern. But you have many tools to help protect yourself. From mammograms to monthly self-exams, you can take proactive steps to catch the signs and symptoms of breast cancer earlier.

Get to know more about what to look for when it comes to breast cancer.

Breast self-exams

Monthly breast self-exams help you get familiar with the feel of your breasts. That way, you know what’s normal for you—and what’s not.

If you notice something that seems off, call your doctor as soon as possible to get it checked out.

If you have a period, you may have cyclical changes in your breast texture due to normal hormone variations during the month.

For consistency, perform a breast self-exam around the same time each month, ideally right after your period ends.

Breast cancer symptoms by type


Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms

Inflammatory breast cancer is rare and causes different symptoms than other types of breast cancer. A lump is less common.

Instead, symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:

  • A breast that looks inflamed or swollen
  • Changes in skin texture, such as skin that looks or feels like an orange peel
  • A red or purple color to the breast

Invasive breast cancer symptoms

Invasive breast cancers are cancers that have spread within or outside the breast.

As they grow and spread, they may cause symptoms such as:

  • A lump in your breast or near your breast, such as your underarm
  • Thickening of the breast
  • Breast swelling
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Skin changes on the breast, such as redness, dimpling or scaling
  • Changes in the nipple or unusual discharge

Male breast cancer symptoms

While it isn’t common, men can get breast cancer, too. About 1% of all breast cancer cases are diagnosed in males.

Some non-cancerous conditions can cause swelling of the breast tissue in men, but swelling along with other symptoms could be a sign of cancer.

Common signs of breast cancer in men include:

  • A lump or thickening in the breast tissue
  • Nipple changes or discharge
  • Changes in the skin texture around the nipple or on the breast area

Metastatic breast cancer symptoms

Metastatic breast cancer has spread beyond the breast to other areas of the body. Your symptoms depend on what part of the body is affected by cancer.

In addition to fatigue, weight loss and breast changes, some symptoms of metastatic breast cancer could include:

  • Brain: headache, vision changes, dizziness or seizures
  • Bones: pain and swelling
  • Lungs: shortness of breath, cough or chest pain
  • Liver: yellowing of skin or eyes, itchy skin or digestive symptoms

Non-invasive breast cancer symptoms

Ductal carcinoma in situ
Non-invasive breast cancers, like ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), have not spread in the breast or the body. Because this type of cancer hasn’t spread, it often causes no symptoms at all.

While DCIS can cause a breast lump, most often, it is found through a routine mammogram.

Lobular carcinoma in situ
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is an area of abnormal cells in the breast but typically isn’t considered cancer.

Like DCIS, it rarely causes symptoms.

What a lump can mean

While a lump in the breast is one of the most common signs of breast cancer, it isn’t always a cause for concern. And some breast cancers don’t cause a lump at all. Sometimes, a lump is caused by a plugged milk duct, a non-cancerous cyst or normal fluctuations in hormones.

Many women have changes in texture and overall breast lumpiness that come and go with their menstrual cycle. Often called fibrocystic breasts, these cyclical changes are usually normal and don’t need any other care.

Unlike cyclical lumpiness, breast cancer is more likely to cause a distinct lump in one area of the breast.

If you have a lump that doesn’t feel normal for you, call your doctor right away. You may need tests, like a mammogram or ultrasound, to get a better look.

Get care for breast cancer symptoms

If you’ve noticed a lump or another change in your breast health, we’re here to guide you through your next steps.

Schedule an appointment with a physician or find your nearest breast imaging center today.