Finding a lump can be very concerning and can cause a woman to become very anxious. Breast cancer can present in many different ways and not only necessarily in the form of a lump. Although almost no one has identical and symmetrical breasts, comparison between the two breasts will assist in giving you an idea as to whether or not there are changes. If you notice any of the following changes, please get medical advice:
- A new lump in the breast or armpit, this may be painful or not.
- A new change in the size, shape or contour of the breast.
- A thickening of breast tissue that feels distinctively different from the other part of the breast tissue.
- A change in the appearance of the skin of the breast and/or nipple. The skin may be dimpled, scaly, puckered or inflamed.
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
- Blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple.
- A rash on the nipple or surrounding area of the nipple.
- Nipple retraction (turning inward of the nipple).
- Swelling of all or part of the breast (especially if one side only), with or without a lump.
- New pain in one specific area of the breast that does not go away.
- A breast infection when you are not breast feeding.
As you can see in the diagram above, the breast tissue extends all the way into the armpit. A breast examination should cover all the areas of breast tissue. Milky discharge when a woman is not breast feeding should be checked by a doctor but is usually not associated with breast cancer. Please remember that any change in the breast should be assessed by a health care professional. It is important to note that the above mentioned changes in the breast do not necessarily indicate breast cancer. Early detection and consultation with a health care professional will give you the best chance of successful and effective treatment.