Symptoms and signs of breast cancer

It is important to know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer and to report any changes to your GP as soon as possible. Most breast changes (like lump or rash) are not cancer but it is always better to discuss them with your GP. Your GP may reassure you and decide not to take any action, may ask you to come back in few weeks to ensure that all symptoms have resolved (following a course of antibiotics for example) or may refer you to see a breast specialist.

The following list is not comprehensive but represents the most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

  • a lump in the breast or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast
  • a change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
  • a nipple that’s turned in (inverted) or look different
  • a rash (like eczema) on the nipple or on the skin
  • liquid (sometimes called discharge) that comes from the nipple without squeezing
  • swelling or a lump in the armpit
  • pain or discomfort in the breast that doesn’t go away

Even if you’re having regular breast screening, it’s important to be ‘breast aware’. This means knowing what your breasts look and feel like normally, so you’re more likely to notice any changes.

Check your breasts regularly for any change in size or shape, or in the way they feel. You should check your nipples too, looking for any discharge or changes in how they look.

Most changes in your breasts or nipples won’t be signs of cancer. But contact your GP as soon as you can if you notice anything unusual for you, even if a recent mammogram didn’t find anything.

I found the following educational video about self-examination very helpful.  I encourage you to have a look at. It is also available on youtube: