Signs and Symptoms

The first symptom of breast cancer for many women is a lump in the breast, however 90% of lumps are benign and not cancer. See your doctor straight away if you notice anything unusual about your breast and have it examined. Your doctor will examine you and if necessary will send you to a specialist breast clinic for further checks.

Changes that could be due to a breast cancer
  • lump or thickening in an area of the breast
  • change in the size or shape of a breast
  • dimpling of the skin
  • change in the shape of the nipple
  • rash on a nipple or surrounding area
  • swelling or lump in the armpit

Like breast lumps, these signs don't necessarily mean cancer. Inverted nipples, blood stained nipple discharge or a rash can all be due to other medical conditions. However, these need to be checked out with a GP. If it is cancer the best chance of successful treatment is by going to the doctor as soon as possible.

A rare type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer can have different symptoms. The whole breast can look red and inflamed and can be very sore. The breast may feel hard. The skin can sometimes looks like orange peel because the pores stand out in the inflamed area.

Breast pain

Breast pain is very common and is not usually due to cancer. Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender before a period. And some benign breast lumps are painful. Many women get pain in their breasts for a while, which goes after a time. There may be no obvious reason for the pain, even with lots of tests. Most breast pain is not caused by cancer, but some breast cancers do cause pain, so if you are worried, see your GP.

This content is based on information published by Cancer Help UK, the patient information website of Cancer Research UK.