Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Lumps are considered the most important signs of breast cancer. However, it is not necessary that the lumps are picked up instantly during the initial phases of the cancer. Furthermore, patients having inflammatory breast cancer don’t even cause lumps and have to be identified separately. Women should remain cautious of other changes and indicators that may signal the presence of a malignancy.

The following are some of the symptoms of breast cancer that are not known to many women. If you are experiencing any of these signs then you must consult a doctor at your earliest.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

1. Red, Sore and Itchy Breasts


The most evident signs of inflammatory breast cancer are reddening of the skin of the breasts. The patient might feel the skin becoming a lot scaly and itchy and hot to touch. Soreness is generally felt by the patients too that is accompanied by swelling of the breast and the appearance of purplish spots that resemble the color of bruises. Some patients might also find the skin of their breasts showing a dimpled texture, which is another sign of the presence of inflammatory breast cancer. In this type of breast cancer, the cancerous cells block the blood vessels that are responsible for supplying blood to the skin, thus resulting in the changed color of the skin.

2. Upper Back Pain


Upper back pain is among the first signs that are felt by women who have developed a breast tumor. The reason for this is that most of the tumors forming inside the breast lie in the glandular tissue which is located deep in the breast near the chest wall. When this tumor starts to grow in size, it starts putting pressure on the chest wall and consequently the spine resulting in a pain felt by the patient between her shoulder blades. In most cases, women fail to recognize this pain as a sign of breast cancer and confuse it with muscular strain.

3. Changes in Nipples


Nipples are among the areas where tumors are most likely to develop. The growth of a tumor near the nipple can cause changes in its shape and appearance that can be picked up very quickly by the patient. The changes in nipples that are usually associated with tumors are flattening or inversion of the nipple. You might feel that your nipple has shrunk in size or is not sticking up as it used to. Moreover, in some cases of breast cancer, discharge of a liquid from the nipple is also observed without it being squeezed. If this discharge has blood present in it then it is a clear indication of breast cancer.

4. Pain, Lump or Swelling in Armpit


The lymph nodes present in the armpit are among the first ones to be affected when breast cancer starts to spread in the body. The lymph nodes in the armpit are the closest ones to the breast and get duly affected by the lymphatic fluid draining from the breast. When this fluid comes in contact with these lymph nodes, they begin to swell in size and take the shape of lumps which start appearing under the armpits. The patient begins to feel intense pain in these lumps which are hard and do not budge when being touched. Thus, the formation of lumps under the armpits is another sign of breast cancer that must not be overlooked.

5. Change in Breast Shape or Size


Breast tumors are known to produce changes in the shape or the size of the breasts too. Women who have thick breast tissue might not feel the presence of the lump that has been forming inside their breasts. However, they might notice the changes being made to their breast by the growing lump. These changes are mostly noticeable when you look at the breasts in a mirror. You will find that one of your breasts has grown in size or is hanging more loosely than the other one. If you find any such change in the shape of your breasts then it is better to consult a doctor and have a mammogram to check for the presence of breast cancer.

6. Late Signs and Symptoms

As the breast cancer starts to spread throughout the body and begins to affect other organs, the following late signs and symptoms might be observed by the patients.

  • Bone pain
  • Buildup of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion)
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Double vision

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