The first and most noticeable symptom of breast cancer is a lump in the breast, or an area where the breast tissue is thickened.
Pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.
Symptoms that it is especially important to be aware of, and to see a doctor if you notice, include:
- A lump in either of your breasts.
- An area of thickened breast tissue.
- Changes in breast size or shape (one or both breasts).
- Nipple discharge (with or without blood).
- Nipple rash (on or around the nipple).
- Changes in appearance of the nipple (sudden sinking into the breast).
- A lump or swelling in the underarm area.
- Dimpling of the skin of your breasts.
It is important to know what is normal for your breasts, and to become accustomed to how they change throughout your menstrual cycle each month. This will help you to notice any changes as early as possible and to be proactive about your breast health. The earlier you have treatment for a lump caused by cancer, the more effective the treatment is likely to be.
Whether a person develops breast cancer can be influenced by several factors. These can include age, breast cancer genes, radiation, hormones, family history, alcohol intake, having children and many others. Breast cancer is more common in women over 50.
Nowadays, far more patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago are still alive, This is due to more effective treatment and better detection methods at earlier stages of the disease.
What to do next
Regular breast screening is a vital early detection measure and it should become a regular part of your health routine. If you find a lump in your breast it is necessarily a sign of cancer, but it is vital that you make an appointment to speak to one of our specialists as soon as possible.
It is not always easy to get an NHS GP appointment and this is not always as quick as you would hope. We offer same-day private GP appointments with experienced doctors at our two central London clinics. We offer consultations, examinations and advice on self-examination as well as urgent referrals for ultrasounds and mammograms.
It is impossible to know for certain from self-examination whether your breast lumps are benign, although in the majority of cases, they are. Painful lumps are more likely to be benign than painless ones, but breast pain doesn’t rule out cancer. It is important that you get examined by a doctor if you notice anything unusual.
It is common to have breast pain, and it does not always indicate a serious problem. You may be experiencing cyclical breast pain, caused by hormonal changes associated with your period, or non-cyclical breast pain, which may have a structural cause. See a doctor if you are experiencing breast pain in order to ensure that all is well.
Yes, this is normal, especially in the week before your period. Some women experience multiple breast cysts, also (fluid-filled sacs) which can make the breasts feel lumpy. A doctor will help you understand what is normal for you and whether there is anything that needs to be checked more thoroughly, so do not hesitate to make an appointment if you notice anything unusual.