Many symptoms of breast cancer, such as breast pain or a lump, may, in fact, be caused by normal breast changes or a benign (not cancer) breast condition.
Some people think that having breast cancer will cause other symptoms apart from a breast change, such as feeling tired, having less energy or weight loss, but this is not the case. If you notice a change, even if you feel well, it’s important to visit your doctor.
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A lump in your breast
Always see a doctor you feel there is a lump in your breast. Not all lumps are cancer, though. There are a number of benign breast conditions (like cysts) that can also cause lumps. Some lumps are often hard and painless, though some may be painful.
- Swelling in or around your breast, collarbone, or armpit
Breast swelling can be caused by inflammatory breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease.
Swelling or lumps around your collarbone or armpits can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in those areas. The swelling may occur even before you can feel a lump in your breast, so if you have this symptom, be sure to see a doctor.
- Breast warmth and itching
Like skin thickening and redness, breast warmth and itching may be symptoms of mastitis – or inflammatory breast cancer. If antibiotics don’t help, see your doctor again.
- Nipple changes
Breast cancer can sometimes cause changes to how your nipple looks. If your nipple turns inward, or the skin on it thickens or gets red or scaly, get checked by a doctor right away. All of these can be symptoms of breast cancer.