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Breast Cancer Signs, Symptoms, and Types

Your breast health is important. Knowing what’s normal and what’s not, can help you identify breast cancer early when treatment is most successful. The expert team at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is here to provide you with the information you need to stay healthy and provide treatment and support when you need it.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

If you notice any changes to your health, talk to your doctor. Breast cancer signs are different from patient to patient. You should be familiar with your breasts so you that you notice if something changes. Annual mammograms, which are recommended for women age 40 and older, can often detect breast cancer early, before you ever experience any symptoms.

Early Symptoms of Breast Cancer

  • Lump or mass in your breast
  • A bump or swelling in the armpit
  • Changes in breast size, shape, skin or color
  • Changes or discharge in one or both nipples
  • Scaly texture on the nipple
  • Breast pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness or thickening of the skin
  • Nipple changes including pulling to one side or a change in direction

These symptoms may be associated with other health conditions and do not always mean that you have breast cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important that you see your doctor right away.

Types of Breast Cancer

Most cases of breast cancer present at an early stage with a breast mass, breast pain or an abnormal mammogram. However up to 10% can present as metastatic disease or stage IV. In stage IV breast cancer, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, commonly bones, lungs, liver or brain.  
Breast cancer can be non-invasive or invasive.

The most common subtype of non-invasive breast cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ (starts in breast milk duct), which is highly treatable and curable.

Common Types of Invasive Breast Cancer

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): IDC is the most common type of breast cancer (70- 80% of diagnoses). Abnormal cancer cells in the milk ducts have spread into other parts of the breast tissue. This is also the most common type of breast cancer in men.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC): ILC is the second most common subtype of invasive breast cancer accounting for up to 8% of invasive diagnoses.

Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Triple negative breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer. It does not have three receptors that are found in many types of breast cancer, which means hormone-targeted treatments aren’t effective.

Learn more about triple negative breast cancer.  

Rarer Types of Breast Cancer

  • Tubular carcinoma
  • Medullary Carcinoma
  • Mucinous Carcinoma
  • Papillary Carcinoma
  • Cribriform Carcinoma
  • Paget's disease of the nipple

If you are experiencing symptoms that worry you, Banner MD Anderson is here to help. Make an appointment with our caring team of breast cancer experts.

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