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Breast Care: Signs of Breast Cancer

In its earliest stages, breast cancer shows no symptoms, so monthly self-exams help identify changes. When performing a breast self exam, watch for:

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast, your underarm area, or neck
  • A change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Nipple discharge or tenderness
  • Nipple pulled back (inverted) into the breast
  • Ridges or pitting of the breast skin (like the skin of an orange)
  • Any change in the way the skin of your breast, areola, or nipple looks or feels; is it warm, swollen, red, or scaly?

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, contact your physician.

These changes can also signal problems less serious than cancer, also known as benign breast conditions. Among these conditions are fibrosis and simple cysts, ductal or lobular hyperplasia, lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), adenosis, fibroadenomas, phyllodes tumors, intraductal papillomas, granular cell tumors, fat necrosis and oil cysts, mastitis, and duct ectasia.

See your Mercyhealth health care provider for further evaluation and for instruction in doing breast self-exams.

To learn about breast cancer risk factors, signs, and symptoms and to receive a self-exam guide, visit the American Cancer Society or Mercy’s Regional Cancer Center.