Disease & Illness

5 Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer—Because It’s Not Always A Lump

You don't need to have a lump to have breast cancer—here's what else to look for.

When most people think about detecting breast cancer, they imagine feeling an alarming lump in their breast. However, although a lump is often the trigger leading to early detection for many occurrences of breast cancer, a lump is not the only symptom that can point to the disease. In fact, according to the National Cancer Research Institute, 1 in 6 women diagnosed with breast cancer first report a symptom other than a lump.

Because of this, it’s important to be aware of other changes in your body that could help lead to an early diagnosis, which maximizes your chances for successful treatment. Here are five signs of breast cancer to be aware of that have nothing to do with a lump.

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1. Unexplained Skin Irritation

Breast cancer can cause unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness or rash on the breast, according to Healthline. However, these symptoms could also just be the result of a minor skin irritation, so check with your doctor if you’re concerned.

2. Nipple Changes

If you notice any changes in the appearance of your nipples, you should get screened for breast cancer. Symptoms can sometimes include a retraction or inward turning of the nipple.

3. Nipple Discharge

Nipple discharge that is clear, bloody or another color can also be a symptom of breast cancer, according to WebMD. Spontaneous discharge is usually the only type of discharge that is a cause of concern, so if the discharge only occurs from squeezing, it’s likely not a sign of something malignant.

4. Swelling and Tenderness

If one breast seems to be particularly enlarged or swollen, you’ll want to get that checked. If a lump is deep under the surface, you may not be able to feel it, but you could experience some swelling. However, breasts can also become tender and enlarged from changing hormones, so it’s not always a cause for alarm.

5. Scaly Skin Or Dimples

Breast cancer can sometimes cause a change in the texture of the breast. A reddish, pitted surface similar to the skin of an orange could be a sign of advanced breast cancer, according to WebMD.

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For the most accurate diagnosis of any symptoms, be sure to see a doctor.