What Are the Seven Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?

Reviewed on 8/5/2020

What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer Testing
Seven Warning Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer include Changes in breast shape, size or appearance, and others.

Breast cancer is the disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control due to various causes.  When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is called metastasized cancer or aggressive/invasive cancer. Breast cancer and its complications can affect nearly every part of the body. Although breast cancer predominantly occurs in women, it can also affect men.

What Are the Seven Warning Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Below are seven warning signs of breast cancer:

  • Changes in breast shape, size or appearance. Lump on the breast with increased warmth appearing larger, warmer and heavier than the normal breast.
  • Pain in breast, chest, upper back or neck. Itching or tenderness in the breast
  • Changes to the nipple and the surrounding area. Changes in the nipple area, nipple retraction and inverted nipple are common warning sign of breast cancer
  • Blood discharge from the nipple. Bleeding from the nipple may be limited and difficult to see, but if an individual notices blood stains on their bra, and if the secretions are unusual, bloody or continuous, they may need urgent medical attention. 
  • Change in color and/or thickening of skin on the breast (peau d'orange; a French term meaning skin of an orange). Any dimpling or thickening of breast skin that resembles an orange rind is a warning sign of breast cancer. If the breast skin changes color, typically to a pink or reddish hue that covers more than half the breast that may also be a warning sign.
  • A non-healing sore anywhere on the breast. A red, scaly, flaky nipple, and any persistent skin change, including blood or fluid from the nipple with non healing sore, may be a warning sign of breast cancer 
  • Swelling of axillary lymph nodes (lymph nodes in the armpit). Many patients diagnosed with breast cancer have swelling of lymph nodes in the armpit. They may or may not have changes in the structure of the breast, but they come in for a consult because they feel a lump under their arm. This may mean that cancer from the breast has traveled to the lymph nodes, and now there is lymph node invasion. 

What Are the Treatment Options for Breast Cancer?

Depending on the type and stage of cancer, treatments can vary. However, there are some common practices doctors and specialists use to combat breast cancer:

  • Lumpectomy is when the doctor removes the tumor while leaving the breast intact.
  • Mastectomy is when the doctor surgically removes all of the breast tissue including the tumor and connecting tissue.
  • Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment, and it involves the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs interfere with cells’ ability to reproduce.
  • Radiation uses X-rays to treat cancer directly.
  • Hormone and targeted therapy can be used when either genes or hormones play a part in the cancer’s growth.

What Is the Outlook or Prognosis of Breast Cancer?

After a diagnosis of breast cancer, there is a 90% five-year survival rate, which means that 90 out of 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to live five years after their diagnosis. It does not mean an individual will die after five years it means a person may live for at least five years and maybe more.

QUESTION

A lump in the breast is almost always cancer. See Answer

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Reviewed on 8/5/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference