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The 12 Most Common Symptoms of Breast Cancer

by | October 21, 2019

We all know the dangers of Googling ourselves down a rabbit hole of disease symptoms and the anxiety it can bring. When it comes to breast cancer symptoms, there are no hard and fast rules because symptoms can vary from person to person (which can be even more anxiety-inducing). Different types of breast cancer can present different symptoms as well. If you notice any changes in your breasts, always check with your doctor ASAP. Otherwise, here are the most common breast cancer symptoms to look out for.

Common breast cancer symptoms

While symptoms can vary, these are among the most common early breast cancer symptoms according to Cancer Center.

Lump in the breast or underarms

A lump in the breast can be distressing, but a lump is not always a sign of breast cancer. For example, a fibrocystic condition can cause noncancerous changes in the breasts that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Now here’s the bad news: a lump in the breast can also be an early warning sign of breast cancer, including invasive breast cancer. If you notice a new lump or mass in your breast, your doctor can help you determine the cause.

Other common early breast cancer symptoms include:

  • Skin changes: swelling, redness, or other visible differences in one or both breasts
  • Changes in the appearance of one or both nipples
  • Nipple discharge
  • Pain in any part of the breast 

Common Breast Cancer Symptoms

Invasive breast cancer symptoms

Invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for 80% of invasive breast cancers. It typically begins in the milk ducts and then spreads to the fatty breast tissue outside the duct. Invasive breast cancer has its own set of symptoms, including:

  • Irritated or itchy breasts
  • Change in breast color
  • Increase in breast size or shape (over a short period of time)
  • Changes in touch (may feel hard, tender or warm)
  • Peeling or flaking of the nipple skin
  • A breast lump or thickening
  • Redness or pitting of the breast skin (like the skin of an orange) 

Ok, so what makes a breast normal?

There is no such thing as a normal or typical breast, since every woman is different! It’s common to have breasts that slightly vary in size compared to each other, or to have breasts that normally feel lumpy or uneven. It’s important to note that hormonal changes – menstrual periods, gaining weight, menopause, etc. – can cause changes in your breasts too. So, what isn’t normal? If you experience any sudden changes in your breasts, including those listed above, be sure to see your doctor for an exam.

Your breasts during menopause and beyond

Annual mammograms are a must-have if you’re in your 50s, or even prior to your 50s if you’re at high-risk for breast cancer. While doing self-breast exams and noting any changes in your breasts is important, nothing takes the place of an exam from your doctor.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. In support of women diagnosed and living with breast cancer, FemmePharma will donate $5 to Living Beyond Breast Cancer with every purchase of our intimate skin moisturizer throughout October when you use the code LBBC5 at checkout.

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All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. If you are worried about anything, you should speak with your medical practitioner.