22.9% of all female cancers are breast cancer, making this one of the most common diseases for women. The key to a favorable outcome and a better survival prognosis for breast cancer victims is timely detection of the disease which is why the early signs of breast cancer are important to detect.

What are the early signs of breast cancer?

Breast cancer may not be detectable or palpable to the sufferer in the early stages; however a lump or tumor may be detected by a mammogram. So, regular mammograms can be a valuable tool for breast cancer detection; particularly for women who are seen to be at higher risk of this disease.

Breast changes

Though a lump or similar growth in the breast or armpit region is usually the one of the first early signs of breast cancer, there are several other changes discernible in the breast that could be symptoms of the disease.

Typically a woman may feel an unusual hardness like a lump or a marble under the skin. It is important to remember that a majority of lumps detected in the breast are benign; however it is important to rule out the possibility of cancer.

Cysts are most often benign and are not an indication of a cancerous or malignant condition. However, they could be one of the risk factors that could predict cancer. So breast cysts, if detected should ideally be investigated.

Any flattening or indentation; any dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast could indicate an abnormality that needs investigation. Any change in the color, contour or skin texture, particularly an orange peel like aspect of the skin should be investigated because this could indicate a rather serious form of breast cancer or Paget’s disease.

Breast pain or even temperature change (unusual warmth), a change in the overall size of the breast, or any kind of tenderness should never be ignored. Any area of the breast that indicates something unusual or having changed recently, feeling different from the other parts of the breast could be warning sign of cancer.

Nipple changes or discharge

No nipple discharge other than milk during lactation should be considered normal discharge. Clear, bloody or other colored discharge from the nipple could be an early sign of breast cancer.

Any change in the shape of size of the nipple, any puckering, an indrawn appearance (inversion), discoloration, growth; even any burning or itching sensation; any scaling of the nipple could also indicate breast cancer or a similar condition.

Other early signs of breast cancer

Pain or swelling in the armpit may be among the early breast cancer symptoms and any changes in this area could be problematic. A recurrent infection of underarm hair follicles for instance should be investigated.

Unexplained weight loss is often among the early signs of breast cancer. A feeling of generally being unwell, fever chills or bone and joint pain and other non specific symptoms could also indicate breast disease. Breast cancer is something that women should guard against zealously and at all ages.