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When detected in its early stages, breast cancer is highly treatable and can sometimes be cured. Therefore, it is essential for every woman to know the warning signs of breast cancer, become familiar with her body and discuss any unusual changes with a physician.

Symptoms to watch for

While the warning signs of breast cancer can vary among women, most symptoms involve changes in the look or feel of a breast or nipple. More specifically, the eight most common warning signs of breast cancer are:

  1. A breast lump
  2. Breast swelling
  3. A change in breast size
  4. Dimpling of breast skin
  5. A nipple rash
  6. Nipple inversion
  7. Nipple discharge
  8. Breast pain

It’s important to note that these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than breast cancer. One example is breast pain, which is more often caused by a benign breast condition than cancer. Another example is a breast lump. Because breast tissue is naturally lumpy, the key sign to watch for is a change in texture. A lump or mass that feels different from other breast tissue could be a sign of breast cancer (but it could also be a sign of a benign breast condition, such as a cyst or fibroadenoma). The only way to know for sure – and receive the earliest possible diagnosis – is to have these symptoms promptly evaluated by a physician.

When to see a physician

In general, you should see a physician if you find a new breast lump or breast tissue that feels different from what you’ve felt before. Even if you were diagnosed with a benign breast lump in the past, don’t automatically assume that a new lump is also benign. It may be, but it’s best to find out for sure.

If you would like to discuss your symptoms with a breast cancer specialist in the Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online.