Breast Cancer

Source: American Cancer Society

Breast cancer is a malignant (cancer) tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. It is found mostly in women, but men can get breast cancer, too. This information is only about breast cancer in women. You can learn more about breast cancer in men  here.

breast cancer detection

Screening for breast cancer

The term screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease like cancer in people who do not have any symptoms. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances that treatment will work. The goal is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms.

The mammogram is the main test recommended by the American Cancer Society to find breast cancer early. For women who are at high risk of breast cancer due to certain factors, the American Cancer Society also recommends breast MRI.

For more details, including the American Cancer Society guidelines, see Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.

More details about mammograms and breast MRI are in Mammograms and Other Breast Imaging Procedures.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

The widespread use of screening mammograms has increased the number of breast cancers found before they cause any symptoms, but screening can’t find all cancers.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A lump that is painless, hard, and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. But some cancers are tender, soft, and rounded or even painful. So it’s important to have anything new or unusual checked by a doctor.

Other symptoms of breast cancer include the following:

  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast pain
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • A nipple discharge other than breast milk

Sometimes breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt.

Although these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, it is important to have them checked out by your doctor.

South County Internal Medicine