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Symptoms and Signs of Breast Cancer

Doctor's Notes on Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when the cells of the breast start to grow abnormally. Breast cancer occurs in both men and women. The breasts are made of fat, glands, and connective (fibrous) tissue. The breast has several lobes, which split into lobules that end in the milk glands. Tiny ducts run from the many tiny glands, connect together, and end in the nipple. Ductal cancer that arises in the ducts accounts for 80% of breast cancers. Lobular cancer develops in the lobules and accounts for approximately 10%-15% of breast cancers.

Early stage breast cancer usually doesn’t cause any symptoms though sometimes it’s possible to feel a lump in the breast. Pain is uncommon. Breast cancer may be discovered before symptoms appear by finding an abnormality on mammography or feeling a breast lump. Other symptoms of breast cancer may include

  • breast discharge,
  • nipple inversion, or changes in the skin overlying the breast,
  • Lymph node changes,
  • Dimpling,
  • Redness,
  • swelling,
  • breast or nipple pain,
  • Changes in skin texture,
  • and puckering.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 7/19/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.