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Breast changes / Signs of Breast Cancer

If you have a breast change, you may be concerned that you have breast cancer. In most cases there is nothing to worry about. However you should follow up all breast changes as soon as possible. If it is cancer, finding it early will mean a much better chance of effective treatment.

Possible signs of breast cancer include the following:

  • Lumps, lumpiness or thickening. For younger women, if it is not related to the normal monthly cycle and remains after your period. For all women, if this is a new change in one breast only.
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast or dimpling of the skin. An area that feels different to the rest
  • Changes to the nipple, such as change in shape, crusting, a sore or ulcer, redness or indrawing of the nipple
  • A discharge from the nipple, which is from one nipple, is bloodstained or occurs without squeezing (or if you are over 60 and have a new discharge)
  • A pulling in of the nipple (know as nipple inversion or retraction)
  • Persistent unusual pain which is not related to your menstrual cycle, remains after your period and is in one breast only

Most breast changes are not breast cancer.- A lump or other change in the breast or nipple could be caused by:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Cysts
  • Fibrodoenomas
  • Lumpy or Fibrocystic Breasts

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes may cause swollen, painful or tender breasts during your menstrual cycle. These are not a sign of breast cancer and usually do not require treatment.

  • Hormones are produced by glands in the body
  • For pre-menopausal women, breast changes may mean your breast feels different at different times of the month
  • If you have been through menopause and are not taking hormone replacement therapy, or had your ovaries removed, you will no longer have breast changes due to hormonal activity

Breast pain is normally linked to hormonal change and is quite common. It seldom indicates breast cancer. If you are concerned about persistent breast pain you should consult your doctor. Treatments are available for hormonal breast pain.

You may like to keep a record of breast changes over a couple of months to see whether the changes occur throughout the month or seem to be more permanent.

Nipple changes may have other causes and should be investigated.

Learn more about

Cysts, Fibrodoenomas and "Lumpy breasts"
Triple test
Breast Self examination
Nipple Changes


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