Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer 

Feel a lump in your breast? Does it hurt? Do you feel it in the armpit, too? Are your nipples leaky without pregnancy? Find out more about breast cancer symptoms here.
breast cancer
Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer 
The cells in the breast have to divide 30 times before they can develop breast cancer. Each division takes about one to two months. But what happens next? How does it show up in the body? Read on to understand the process.
In this article

Before we look at the symptoms of breast cancer, it is vital to understand the disease. The breast has three pivotal cells – lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. Lobules produce milk. Ducts carry milk from lobules to the nipple. Connective tissue comprises fibrous and fatty tissues. The connective tissues hold lobules and ducts together. 

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the breast. Either one or both of the breasts may be affected. The cells of the breast begin to grow out of control. Most lumps of the breast are benign, meaning they do not spread to other body parts. They are not life-threatening. But they can increase the risk of cancer. 

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States of America. It’s far more common in women. But men can get breast cancer, too, and exhibit similar symptoms. 

Common Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Every cancer shows itself through signs and symptoms. Some common cancer symptoms are as follows:

  • Weakness
  • Unidentified changes in weight, such as weight loss or gain
  • Skin changes: Yellow, dark, red, unhealing sores, and mole changes
  • Alteration in bowel movements
  • Alteration in bladder habits
  • Continuous cough
  • Trouble breathing

Symptoms Observed in the Breast

breast cancer
Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer  4
  • Lump in the breast
  • Lump in the armpit
  • Thickening of the breast
  • Swelling of a part of the breast
  • Irritation of the skin of the breast
  • Dimples or pitting in the skin of the breast (orange peel-like appearance)
  • Redness of the breast
  • Redness in the nipple area
  • Discharge from nipples other than breast milk
  • Blood from the nipple
  • Pain in any portion of the breast
  • Pain in the nipple
  • Pulling in of the nipples (inverted nipples)
  • The nipple is flaky, red, burning, itchy, develops sores, dimpled, inverted, dry, or swollen.
  • The skin of the breast is flaky, red, dry, or swollen.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit or near the collarbone (sign of spread of cancer).
  • Tenderness of the breast 
  • Prickly feeling in the breast
  • Ulcer on the breast or nipple
  • Nipple pulling to one side or changing direction.
  • Scaliness on the nipple extending to the areola (dark circular pigmentation in the nipple area)
  • The lump may feel like a ball, nodule, rubbery, soft, or hard.

Uncommon Signs of Breast Cancer

There are some uncommon signs and symptoms of breast cancer, some that you have never heard of or seen before. You may not feel like it would be a cancer symptom, but it is. 

  • Itchy scaly rash on the nipple
  • Breasts of uneven size or look different from one another
  • Redness and darkening of the breast
  • Pain in the breast before menses is common in women in their childbearing age. However, an uncommon sign of breast cancer in menopausal women is pain in the breast.
  • A clear or bloody discharge coming out of the nipples
  • Increased warmth in the breast
  • One of the breasts feels larger, warmer, and heavier than the other one.
  • Shooting pain in the breast
  • An unhealing sore on the breast is a clear sign of Paget’s breast cancer.
  • Mastalgia resolves on its own. If it persists, it may be a sign of breast cancer.
  • Red spots on the breasts
  • Dermatitis or eczema on the breast
  • Small, swollen, tender-to-touch, and firm lymph nodes felt on the armpit and near the collarbone
  • Pale, white, reddish brown, or brown coloring of the breast
  • Back pain
  • Loss of weight
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Lump in the neck
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Cough
  • Oedema of the arms
  • Bruising of the breast
  • Pain in the armpit
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Difficulty in breathing

How Symptoms Vary by Individual and Cancer Type

Since there are 16 types of breast cancer, each kind has its way of presenting itself. Let’s learn about each of them and how they show themselves-

Non-invasive breast cancer


  • Itching, tingling sensation in the nipples and areola
  • Redness or change in the shape of the nipples
  • Yellowish or bloody discharge from the nipples
  • Flaky, crusty, and thick skin around the nipple

Invasive breast cancer


  • New lump in the armpit or breast
  • Change in size, shape, and feel of the breast
  • Puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast
  • Fluid leak from nipples of a non-pregnant woman
  • Redness of the skin of the breast
  • Rashes on the breast

Inflammatory breast cancer


  • Sudden change in one breast within several weeks
  • Visible thickness of one breast
  • Red, purple, bruised, or pink breast 
  • Unusual warmth in the breast

Metastatic breast cancer


  • Persistent back pain or neck pain without any injury or strain
  • Pain in the bones
  • Headache
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Profound generalized weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained cough 

Phyllodes tumor


  • The lump is firm and painless
  • Some may cause pain
  • Lumps grow too quickly
  • The swollen area stretches the skin

Angiosarcoma of the breast


  • A thick visible area on the skin of the breast
  • Lump in the breast
  • Bruised skin of the breast or armpit
  • Discolored rash on the skin of the breast

Male breast cancer

breast cancer
Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer  5


  • Painless firm lump in the area behind the nipple or the armpit
  • Red, flaky, scaly skin near the nipple
  • Tenderness in the chest or armpit
  • Pitted skin on the chest

Papillary carcinoma of the breast


  • Thickening of the breast tissue
  • Nipples pulled inward 
  • Discharge from the nipples
  • Change in the size of the breast 

Triple-negative breast cancer


  • Lump in the breast or armpit
  • Pickering of the skin of the breast
  • Change in the shape, size, and feel of the breast
  • Fluid leaks from the nipple in a non-pregnant woman
  • Nipple position changes
  • Rashes on the skin of the breast
  • Redness of the skin of the breast

Paget’s disease of the breast


  • Eczema of the nipple
  • Crusty, oozing, and hardened nipples and areola
  • Itching of the breast
  • Redness of the breast
  • Discharge from the nipples is straw-colored or bloody
  • Flattened or inward-going nipples
  • Burning sensation in the breast
  • Flaky and scaly skin on the nipples

Lobular carcinoma in situ


  • Does not have any symptoms
  • Only diagnosed in a breast biopsy

Ductal carcinoma in situ


  • It does not have any symptoms. Nevertheless, there could be a lump or a slight discharge from the nipple.
  • Diagnosed on a mammogram
  • Breast biopsy ordered after a mammogram

Atypical hyperplasia in the breast lump


  • Does not have any symptoms
  • Only found by chance

When to See a Doctor

breast cancer
Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer  6

Get in touch with your healthcare professional if you show the following symptoms:

  • The lump is new and feels firm or doesn’t move
  • Even after 4 to 6 weeks, it is still there
  • After four weeks, you notice a change in the lump’s size or the way it feels
  • Changes in the skin of the breast – crusting, dimpling, puckering
  • Breast skin color changes from normal to red or pink
  • Fluid leaks out of nipples that may be bloody
  • Nipples have turned inwards (inverted nipples)
  • You notice a lump in the armpit, too
  • In the armpit, the lump is growing in size

Early Detection and Why It Matters

When breast cancer is detected and treated early, the chances of survival are high. However, many women do not opt to get checked. They face complex barriers to early detection, such as social, economic, geographical, and other interpersonal-related factors. 

Many women silently suffer as they do not show any signs of breast cancer. Regular breast screening can work miracles. Early detection contributes to the prevention of its wild spread to other body parts. Also, the management of it becomes uncomplicated for doctors. 

Women of all ages fall under the vulnerability category to developing this disease. Like many cancers, if early detection of breast cancer is done through regular mammograms every year after 40, then mortality can be reduced at a large scale. 

Here are some statistics to convey the gravity of early detection:

  • 1 in 8 women in the United States of America is at risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. 
  • 85% of the women with breast cancer do not have a familial history. 
  • Small lumps as small as 0.5 inch, 0.7 inch, or 1.4 inch can get caught during regular screenings.
  • Breast cancer-related deaths dropped by 38% between 1989 and 2014 due to early detection and treatment. 
  • 20 is the right age to begin self-examination of breasts, and 30 is the appropriate age for annual mammograms and clinical examinations of breasts. And 40 is the recommended age to start getting yearly mammograms.  


Many symptoms of breast cancer go unnoticed by many women because they don’t understand that treatment can begin as soon as the symptoms show. If you see any signs in yourself, do not hesitate to contact a nearby trusted healthcare professional. 

Was this helpful?

Did you like the post or would you like to give some feedback? Let us know your opinion by clicking one of the buttons below!

Arati Kulkarni

Arati Kulkarni

A freelance content writer by profession for the last seven years, Dr Arati Kulkarni Srivastava has an extensive medical and management background of 8 years. She enjoys writing on healthcare, mental health, and wellness.

This page is purely informational. Beem does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

Related Posts

How to stay active during the holiday season 
The only workout many people do during the holiday season is lifting forks. With all the tempting food around you, it’s best to not give in to your urges. We’ll tell you how to do stay active and still enjoy all the holiday food. 
Exercise and dyslexia
Exercise and Dyslexia: How Physical Activity Can Improve Brain Health 
They say dyslexia is not a curse. It's a challenge that many people face daily. However, it can be advantageous if you follow proper exercise and physical activity. Here's a guide to help you through the process.
Dyslexia Stress Management Techniques 
How To Manage Dyslexia-Related Stress: Best Mindful Practices
Dyslexia can be stressful. A person's challenges while reading, writing, and spelling can put them in a labyrinth of frustration. Check out some mindful practices that will help you tackle dyslexia and anxiety. 
breast cancer
Breast Cancer Treatment Options: Which is Best?
We all know chemotherapy is best for breast cancer. But it gets administered before and after surgery; did you know about this? To learn more about different breast cancer treatment options, read on. 
breast cancer survivors
Breast Cancer Survivors Tell Their Stories
Breast cancer is a battle a survivor fights with themselves. Let’s explore some breast cancer survivors’ life journeys at a glance.
breast cancer research
What’s The Latest In Breast Cancer Research?
Breast cancer research has helped in understanding the complexities of this disease, developing clinical trials for testing, and coming up with effective strategies for prevention, early detection, and treatment. Read on to know more.



Get up to $1,000 for emergencies

Send Money, Pay Later™

Send money to anyone in the US

BFF - Better Financial Feed

Ger personalized financial insights

Credit Monitoring

Monitor and grow credit score

Cash back

Get up to 20% on everyday spends


Save up to 40% on car insurance

Job-Loss & Disability Protection

Get up to $1,000 for loss of income

Identity Theft Insurance

Insure up to $1 Million

Health Insurance

Coming Soon

File Taxes

File federal and state taxes at low cost

Tax Calculator

Quick estimate of your tax returns

Personal Loan

Get up to $1,000 for emergencies

High Yield Savings

Send money to anyone in the US

Save big on auto insurance - compare quotes now!

Zip Code:
Zip Code: