Most Common Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is the most common of all the cancers and is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide.

Recent Study reports that 1 in 28 women in India have chances of developing cancer.In India the age group at risk is 43-46 years where as in Western countries the age group is higher 53-57 years.

It is seen to be more common in urban areas than the rural areas in India.


  1. Age of the mother during first child birth- Women who have their first full-term pregnancy at an early age have a decreased risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

  1. Number of children: The risk of breast cancer declines with the number of children born.

  1. Duration of breast feeding: Breastfeeding for an extended period (at least a year) is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer

  1. BMI: Increased BMI is associated with increased risk of breast cancer

  1. Alcohol: increases the risk of developing breast cancer

  1. Obesity: increases the risk of post menopausal breast cancer.

  1. Smoking: increases risk of getting breast cancer


  1. Age: Women over age of 40 are more prone to have cancer than the younger age.

  1. Gender: Females are generally affected but there are known cases where men are also detected with breast cancer

  1. Race: White race is generally said to have more tendency for breast cancer than the Asians or Africans

  1. Family History: The 1st-degree relative (mother, sister, and daughter) with breast cancer doubles or triples the risk of developing the cancer.

  1. Menstrual History: Women who began their menstrual cycles before age 12, have no biological children, or had their first child at 30 or older or began menopause after 55 are at a higher risk.

The first sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast which you or your doctor can feel.  A lump which is painless, hard, and has edges which are uneven is more likely to be cancer. But sometimes cancers can be tender, soft, and rounded. So it is very important to have anything unusual checked by your doctor.

The other pointer symptoms of breast cancer are:

  • A change in the skin texture or an enlargement of pores in the skin of the breast   (an “orange peel” texture to the skin)

  • Nipple discharge or retraction of the nipple (Nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted)

  • Any unexplained enlargement of one breast

  • Dimpling of the breast surface

  • Vaginal pain

  • Unintentional weight loss

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit

  • Visible veins on the breast

  • Unexplained swelling of the breast (especially if on one side only)

  • Unexplained shrinkage of the breast (especially if on one side only)

Tests to confirm the diagnosis of breast cancer:

  • Mammogram: an x-ray of the breast to help tell between a cancerous and a non cancerous  mass

  • Biopsy: removal of a small amount of breast tissue for testing

  • Ultrasound: use of ultrasonic sound waves to produce an image of the tissue

  • MRI: Normally used in conjunction with other tests, magnetic resonance imaging is another non-invasive way to examine breast tissue

SELF EXAMINATION FOR BREAST CANCER:  Its important as women can not only become more familiar with their breasts, but can sense breast problems before they become too serious.

Step 1:  After a bath, stand in front of a large mirror and put your hands on your hips. Look at the size, shape, and color of your breasts. They should look normal with no visible dimpling, puckering, or swelling.

Step 2: Raise your arms above your head and clasp your hands together. Examine your breasts  and look for dimpling, puckering, swelling, rashes, or inverted nipples.

Step 3: Place your arms at your side and gently squeeze each nipple between finger and thumb to check for any discharge.

Step 4: Next, lie down, and use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Taking three fingers, firmly press the breast in small circles from top to bottom and side to side.

Step 5: Finally, either sitting in a chair, feel your breasts as you did in step four.

If any of these is found in the breast self examination, then you should consult your doctor. Please remember that early detection leads to complete cure. The survival rates for early breast cancer are excellent and these women lead healthy normal lives.

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