With the use of regular mammography screening, most breast cancers are found at an early stage, before signs appear. However, not all breast cancers are found through mammography. There are warning signs of breast cancer that you can always look out for- personally. These signs and symptoms are not the same for all women; however any breast cancer symptom you notice should be investigated as soon as it is discovered.
A lump in the breast or armpit:
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel like a change are a concern and should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition.
A lump that is abnormal is present all the time and does not get smaller or go away with the menstrual cycle. The lump may feel like it is attached to the skin or chest wall and cannot be moved. It may feel irregular in shape and very different from the rest of the breast tissue. The lump may be tender, but it is usually not painful.
Sometimes small, hard lumps in the armpit may be a sign that breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Although these lumps are often painless, they may be tender.
If there’s pain, that is often a symptom of a non-cancerous (benign) condition, but should also be checked by a doctor.
Changes in breast shape or size
The skin of the breast may become dimpled or puckered. Redness, swelling and increased warmth (signs that look like an infection) may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. Itching of the breast or nipple may also be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. This type of itchiness is often not relieved by ointments, creams or other medications.
Some people’s nipples are always pointed inward (inverted). Normal nipples that suddenly become inverted should be checked by a doctor. Discharge from one nipple may be a sign of breast cancer, especially if it appears without squeezing the nipple (is spontaneous) and is blood-stained or clear (not milky). Crusting, ulcers or scaling on the nipple may also be a sign of some rare types of breast cancer.
As the cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body, late signs and symptoms may occur. Such include;
• bone pain
• loss of appetite
• weight loss
• jaundice (a condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow and urine is dark yellow)
• buildup of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion)
• double vision
• muscle weakness