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Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast cancer symptoms can be different for different women, but most commonly, the first symptom of breast cancer is finding a lump or an area of thickened tissue in the breast.

Every woman’s breasts are different and they will change with age and at different times of the month. It is important to ‘get to know’ your breasts, making any changes more noticeable and easier to spot.

If you do spot any unusual changes, these could be for a number of reasons, but a regular professional checks are always advised.  Your doctor or nurse will also help you understand what breast changes to keep an eye out for.

Lumps are vital to look out for, and for many women the first sign or symptom of breast cancer is a lump in their breast. But many women have breast lumps and most of them are benign (not cancerous), and there are other important signs and symptoms too.

Painful breasts is very rarely a symptom of breast cancer.

Images to Help you Spot Possible Problems

Breast Cancer Symptoms – Look Out for the Following

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast Cancer Symptoms


Most Lumps ARE NOT Cancerous

Most lumps found in the breast ARE NOT cancerous, but better safe than sorry.  A lump in the breast may not be seen, but might be felt.  Here is a quick checklist:

  • Can you feel a lump?
    Either in the breast, upper chest or armpit?
  • Is there a lumpy area?
    Or unusual thickening of the breast tissue that doesn’t go away?
  • Is there any unusual pain or discomfort?
    Either in part of the breast or the armpit?
  • Is there any change in size or shape?
    For example, one breast might become larger or lower than the other.
  • Any change in colour?
    The breast may look red or inflamed.
  • Any change in skin texture?
    Such as puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast.
  • Any change in the general appearance or direction of the nipple?
    One might become inverted (turned in) when it normally points out.
  • Any unusual discharge?
    One or both nipples might have a discharge.
  • Any rash or crusting on or around the breast?
    Any rash or crusting of the nipple or surrounding area.


It’s as Simple as “TLC”

  • TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
  • LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
  • CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.

Most Breast Lumps are not Cancerous

Most breast lumps (90%) aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor.

You should see your GP if you notice any of the following:

  • a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast