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Breast cancer symptoms

Perhaps the most recognized symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast tissue. While many women go to their doctor after finding a lump, they should also be aware of any other changes to the breast or nipple.

With the different types of breast cancer come a variety of related symptoms. For example, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), which forms in the milk ducts, may cause a distinct breast lump that you can feel. Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), which forms in the milk-producing glands, may cause a thickening in the breast.


Video: Breast Cancer Screening and Symptoms

Breast Cancer Screening and Symptoms

Metastatic breast cancer symptoms

Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body to which the cancer has spread. Sometimes, metastatic disease may not cause any symptoms.

  • If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
  • If the bones are affected, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
  • If the lungs are affected, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain or extreme fatigue.
  • If the liver is affected, symptoms may include nausea, extreme fatigue, increased abdominal girth, swelling of the feet and hands due to fluid collection and yellowing or itchy skin.
  • If the brain or spinal cord are affected, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement or seizures.

Understanding cancer symptoms

These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. If you notice any cancer signs or symptoms, it's important to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

What every woman needs to know about breast cancer

podcast mod

Dr. Dennis Citrin discusses breast cancer and advances in treatment.

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