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What are the common symptoms of breast cancer?

A more detailed and elaborate discussion on symptoms of breast cancer can be found on the The Pink Initiative's website . We would suggest you to visit that page for more details. You can click here to visit that page To enumerate here in brief, the commonest symptoms of breast cancer are as follows:

  • Hard lump in the breast: By far, this is the most common symptom and a majority of the patients are going to present with a history of a recently noticed 'painless' hard lump in the breast. Occasionally, there may be more than one lump.

  • Lumpish 'feel': Not uncommonly, there is no discrete lump in the breast, but an abnormal 'lumpish' feel, which is not there in the other breast. This is important and to be kept in mind, as these are the cases, which may be missed out.

  • Recent retraction of the nipple: A recent onset of retraction of the nipple is also a very ominous sign. Normally, the nipple tends to face downward and outward. When the nipple is 'retracted', it goes 'inwards' deeper into the breast and direction changes. Often this is also accompanied by an underlying hard lump in the breast. Sometimes, there may be changes in the nipple, which may becomes 'sore'.

  • Nipple discharge: Discharge from the nipple may also occur in benign conditions, but a blood stained discharge from the nipple is not a good sign, and may be an indicator of an underlying cancer.

  • Skin changes over the breast: The breast is suspended from the chest wall by particular 'ligaments' or 'threads' which hold the breats to the chest wall. When cancer invades these ligaments or 'threads', they are pulled inwards leading to formation of peculiar tiny pits on skin and thickened skin which looks like an 'peel of orange'. Similar phenomenon occurs when the lymphatics of skin are invaded, resulting in 'swelling' or 'thickening' of skin. This form of skin involvement is considered as an advanced cancer, and places the patient into stage 3.

  • Palpable masses in axilla: Occasionally, the primary lump in the breast may be small, but may have spread in the axilla, giving rise to mass of 'lymph nodes' which may be palpable.