Breast Cancer (Facts, Stages) (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Breast cancer facts
- What is breast cancer?
- What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
- What causes breast cancer?
- What are the different types of breast cancer?
- What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
- How is breast cancer diagnosed?
- Screening for breast cancer
- Definitive diagnosis
- Specialized breast cancer testing
- What are the stages of breast cancer?
- What is the treatment for breast cancer?
- Surgery for breast cancer
- Radiation for breast cancer
- Hormone therapy for breast cancer
- Chemotherapy for breast cancer
- Targeted therapy for breast cancer
- Breast cancer treatment by stage
- What are the survival rates and prognosis for breast cancer?
- What research is being performed on breast cancer?
- Can breast cancer be prevented?
- Breast Cancer FAQs
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
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.
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