Hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
Screening tests can help find breast cancer in its early stages before any symptoms appear. It should be noted that warning signs for breast cancer are not the same for everyone, and women and men should look for different things (yes, men can get breast cancer too, just at a lower rate than women).
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
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Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
Breast or nipple pain
Nipple retraction (turning inward)
Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt. Swollen lymph nodes should also be checked by a healthcare provider.
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Although many of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional so that the cause can be found.
Because mammograms do not find every breast cancer, it is important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.