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American Family Children's Hospital

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

UW Breast Center

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Cancer Connect

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Breast Cancer


Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States.


Early breast cancer usually does not cause symptoms, but as tumors grow, they can change how the breast looks or feels.


Common changes include:

  • A lump of thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering in the skin of the breast
  • New nipple retraction
  • Discharge (fluid) from the nipple, possibly bloody
  • Scaly, red or swollen skin on the breast, nipple or areola (the dark area of skin at the center of the breast)
  • Skin that might have ridges or pitting so that it looks like the skin of an orange

Inflammatory Breast Cancer


Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but very aggressive type of breast cancer. It is called "inflammatory" because they breast often looks swollen and red, or "inflamed."


IBC tends to be diagnosed in younger women and occurs more frequently and at a younger age in African-American women.


Typical symptoms of IBC include:

  • Redness, swelling and warmth in the breast, often without a distinct lump
  • Skin might also appear pink, reddish purple or bruised
  • Skin that might have ridges or pitting so that it looks like the skin of an orange
  • Heaviness, burning, aching, increase in breast size or tenderness

These symptoms usually develop quickly, over a period of weeks or months. Swollen lymph nodes might also be present under the arm and/or above the collarbone.


If you have any of these symptoms, please contact a health care provider so the problems can be diagnosed and treated.