Understanding Breast Cancer ……….3 (Dr. Ulhas Ganu)

Understanding Breast Cancer ……….3

(Dr. Ulhas Ganu)

Knowing more about the Signs & Symptoms of  Breast Cancer

The Canadian Cancer Society has elaborated the  signs and symptoms well enough for everybody to understand these well.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

  • The most common  and usually the first sign of Breast Cancer is the ‘Lump’ in the breast. Usually the lady herself finds it out first.
  • The lump related  to Breast Cancer may be tender but usually without pain.
  • The  lump may sometimes feel hard and irregular in shape. It may appear  distinctly different from the rest of the breast tissue.
  • Peculiarly, the lump does not disappear or change in size with the menstrual  cycle.
  • Cancer  related lump is firmly  attached to the skin or the chest wall and cannot be moved (unlike lipoma, which is a benign tumor, essentially  mobile and is a pocket of fat surrounded by fibrous tissue).
  • It  is important to note that pain can more often be a symptom of noncancerous  (benign) tumor. Yet, one should not be complacent but needs to be  vigilant and get examined from a doctor to ascertain it.

Also read: Understanding Breast Cancer ………. 2 (Dr. Ulhas Ganu)

Other changes

Lump in the Armpit

  • There  can be a lump in the armpit. This could be because of the axillary  lymph node involvement (because of metastases). We saw these terms  later when dealing with the biology and structure of normal breast.
  • Axillary lump is more often than not, because of the spread of cancer.  This may be hard, sometimes tender and often painless.

Changes in breast shape or size of Breast:

Such  changes in the size or shape of breast may indicate breast cancer.

Skin Changes

  • Dimpled  Skin: It means hollowness or formation like a pit or depression in breast
  • Puckered Skin: It means with creases or crumpled (region).
  • thickening and dimpling  of the skin (sometimes called orange peel skin), may occur.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

  • Calor (Heat), Dolor (Pain), Rubor (Redness), and Tumor (for swelling) were described as classical signs of  inflammation (originally recorded by the Roman encyclopedist Celsus in the  1st century A.D.)

 If present in breast, a medical checkup is  indicated for the possibility of inflammatory breast cancer.

  • Other indicator  for the possibility of Inflammatory Breast Cancer could be (persistent) itching in the breast or the nipple, which is (often) not relieved by medications or medicated  ointments or creams for local application.

Nipple Changes

  • In majority of  people Nipples are normally pointed outwards. In some, nipples may be pointed  inwards (inverted). However, if normal nipples get inverted, it could be a cause of concern and the person  should ideally see a doctor for consultation and medical opinion.

Discharge from Nipples

  • Although many noncancerous conditions may cause it, better to find out the  reasons.
  • Discharge from a single nipple, especially if it occurs without  squeezing it, and especially if containing blood may be a sign of  Breast Cancer.

Paget’s Disease (a type  of Breast Cancer):


While  it is ideal through treatment point of view and for better outcome of  therapy i.e. cure rate to have an early diagnosis, many breast cancer  cases are detected when the tumor has spread to other organs (Metastases).

Canadian Cancer Society has elaborated well the additional sets of  symptoms, termed as late signs and symptoms which occur when the cancer grows larger in size  and / or spreads to other parts of the body, are described below:

  • Bone Pain
  • Nausea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Jaundice
  • Pleural Effusion: (buildup of fluid around the lungs)
    • Shortness  of Breath
    • Cough
  • Headache
  • Double Vision
  • Muscle Weakness


To know more: Stage 3 (III) A, B, And C Of Breast Cancer

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