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Breast Cancer (Facts, Stages) (cont.)

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What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

Early breast cancers may not produce any symptoms. In fact, breast cancer may not cause signs and symptoms until the disease has spread significantly, which is one reason why screening mammograms are essential. When symptoms do occur, the most common symptom is a mass or painless lump in the breast or armpit that is hard, irregular in shape, and is usually painless. Other symptoms that can occur are nipple discharge, redness or nipple retraction (inward turning), changes in the skin of the breast (such as dimpling or an orange-peel appearance), and size and shape changes or swelling of part of the breast. When present, fluid coming from the nipple may look like pus, may be green, brown, clear to yellow, or bloody. Breast pain can occur but is usually a late symptom. Symptoms of breast cancers are similar in younger, premenopausal women and in older women (postmenopausal or over about 50 years of age).

Breast cancer tends to spread through the lymphatic system to lymph nodes. Lymph nodes under the arm can be affected (causing swelling of the armpit) as can be lymph nodes around the collarbone. These areas can present with swellings or nodes even before the tumor in the breast is palpable.

Symptoms of advanced (metastatic or stage 4) breast cancer depend on the location of the metastases and can include weight loss, bone pain, swelling of the armpit, and ulceration of the skin.

Symptoms of breast cancer in men include a lump in the breast, nipple pain and tenderness, fluid from the nipple, inversion or retraction of the nipple, and sores around the nipple. Enlargement of both breasts in males is typically not due to cancer but due to hormonal or other factors.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/29/2014


Breast Cancer

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