Early detection is key to treating and curing breast cancer. Many women regularly examine their breasts to look for common warning signs. These include:
- A painless lump in the breast
- Abnormal thickening of the breast tissue
- A change in the density of the breast
Less often, breast cancer can show up as:
- A lump under the arm
- Redness or scaliness of the skin on the breast
- A change in the nipple (such as discharge or inversion)
- Dimpling of the skin
Inflammatory breast cancer may make the breast red, swollen, and warm to the touch, similar to the symptoms of an infection. The surface of the breast may look pitted, like the skin of an orange, because the cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin. Typically there is no single lump in the breast. Because of the unclear symptoms, a delay in diagnosis is not unusual.
If you notice any change in the usual feel, appearance, or texture of either of your breasts, you should schedule a clinical breast examination with your physician. Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but the only way to know for sure is to do a biopsy to take a sample of cells and view them under a microscope.