The vast majority of breast lumps are not indicators of breast cancer. However, there are other symptoms that may be indicative of breast cancer in some cases.
Frequently, these signs turn out to have benign causes, but it is still recommended that you see a doctor or health care provider if you notice a change in your breasts.
Some signs of breast cancer may be:
- Dimpling of the nipple
- Discharge from the nipple
- New asymmetry of the breasts (one looking larger or smaller than the right)
- Bumps in the armpit or breast itself
- Redness of the skin over the breast
- Skin that feels warm or hot to the touch
A rare type of breast cancer, called inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), has distinctive signs. In IBC, cancer cells block the lymph vessels of the skin of the breast, causing the breast to appear red or inflamed. IBC is often detected without the presence of a lump.
Symptoms of IBC may include:
- Redness of the breast
- Swelling of the breast
- Pain or itchiness of the breast
- Skin on the breast thickening or becoming ridged or dimpled
- Swelling of the nearby lymph nodes- in the armpit or near the collarbone
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your physician or health care provider immediately.
Please remember that these signs and symptoms do not always mean that you have breast cancer. In order to evaluate your symptoms, you will need a breast exam and possible imaging tests (like a mammogram or ultrasound). A biopsy is sometimes also recommended to rule out cancer if this is suspected.