Breast cancer does not always cause symptoms. The appearance of symptoms will depend on factors like the type, size, and location of the cancer. If you experience any symptoms, do not assume it is due to cancer. Many symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions, such as a breast cyst. However, it is still important to discuss them with your doctor. Early detection and treatment improve outcomes for both cancer and other health conditions.
Early breast cancer usually does not cause physical pain, and symptoms may not initially be noticeable. The most common symptom is a painless lump or thickening in or near the breast, or in the underarm area. In some cases, the lump or thickening may cause pain. If the lump stops growing or shrinks, it does not mean the problem has gone away. Any changes in the breast should be reported to your doctor.
Other changes to be aware of include:
Later stages of cancer may cause:
Breast cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003090-pdf.pdf. Accessed October 22, 2015.
Breast cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/breast-disorders/breast-cancer. Updated September 2013. Accessed October 22, 2015.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113654/Breast-cancer-in-women. Updated September 14, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
General information about breast cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/patient/breast-treatment-pdq. Updated August 13, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2015.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.