Early Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Breast Cancer | HCG

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer symptoms may vary from patient to patient. However, some of the first symptoms of breast cancer include a new, painless lump, swelling or change in the appearance of the breasts, and changes in the texture of the skin of the nipples.

Some signs and symptoms of breast cancer may vary depending on the patient's age, location of the cancerous tumor, and the type of cancer.

An early diagnosis is a critical factor in increasing the survival rates of cancer. However, having these signs does not mean the patient suffers from breast carcinoma. For a definitive diagnosis of breast cancer, doctors will recommend additional tests, such as imaging scans and a biopsy.

Who is Mainly Affected by Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is primarily seen in women. However, it can be rarely seen in men as well.

Middle-aged women who are above the age of 50 are found to have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Various factors, such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, family history, obesity, hormone replacement therapy, etc., can increase one’s breast cancer risk.

Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The most common breast tumor symptoms include a lump or mass located in the breasts or armpits, changes in the shape and appearance of the breast, discharge from the nipple, even blood, and pain in any part of the breast.

Breast Cancer Types & Symptoms

Since there are different types of breast carcinomas, some of them share symptoms, while others display unique signs. Here are the different breast cancer types and the symptoms associated with them:

Causes of Breast Cancer

The question of what is the reason for breast cancer can have many answers, as various aspects can affect an individual’s chances of getting diagnosed with it.

When to See an Oncologist?

As soon as you witness any of the early signs of breast cancer, it is advisable to go to your physician, who will further recommend you visit an oncologist. The oncologist would then perform some further tests to confirm the presence of cancerous cells.


One of the major causes of breast cancer almost everyone ignores is increasing age. Thus, it is often advisable to go for regular checkups once a female reaches the age of 50 and men are over 60. Also, as soon as one starts getting early signs of breast cancer, it is important to see a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Stage 1 breast cancer symptoms are not very noticeable in some patients. Usually, the symptoms seen at this stage include changes in the shape and size of the breast, discharge from the nipple, redness of the breast skin, or a lump on the breast.

Women must opt for monthly self-breast examinations, which help catch breast cancer in its early stages. Some of the signs and symptoms that women need to look for include the presence of a lump in the breasts or armpits, a change in the breast size, changes in the appearance and texture of the breast skin, and abnormal discharge from the nipples.

The speed at which breast cancer symptoms start appearing varies from one patient to another. Some patients show early symptoms, while others do not show any symptoms at all. These symptoms become more apparent as the disease progresses. If the disease is progressing faster, the symptoms will also appear quickly.

Therefore, it is important to opt for regular screening in the form of a self-breast examination and annual mammography. This helps catch breast cancer even before it starts showing symptoms.

Stress may not be a direct cause of breast cancer; however, it could be a contributing factor, according to a few studies. These studies have reported that women who experience chronic stress have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. That said, more research is needed to confirm this link.

Among younger individuals, breast cancer is caused by genetic mutations and a positive family history of breast cancer. However, the disease is quite prevalent among women who have undergone menopause and are middle-aged.

Breast cancer is extremely rare in teenagers; however, it is possible. Certain genetic conditions, a positive family history of breast cancer, obesity, etc., may act as risk factors for breast cancer in teenagers.

We do not have sufficient evidence to explain why breast cancer is more common than other types of cancer.

The fact that the risk factors for breast cancer are too generic may also play a role in making breast cancer a more common cancer than other cancer types. Increasing age, being female, having a family history, consuming tobacco and alcohol, and being overweight are the few risk factors for breast cancer patients.

Though we do not know the exact cause of breast cancer, it is understood that certain factors can increase the risk. Tobacco and alcohol consumption, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, a positive family history of breast cancer, increasing age, etc. are the important factors that contribute to the increasing breast cancer risk.

Yes, both first-hand and second-hand smoking are considered risk factors for breast cancer. The harmful chemicals present in tobacco have been observed to cause DNA mutations that could potentially cause breast cancer.

Quitting tobacco and developing a healthier lifestyle could gradually reduce one’s breast cancer risk.

When breast cancer progresses to stage 3, the tumor size is usually more than 5 centimeters, and the disease has spread to the nearby lymph nodes and muscles. Stage-3 breast cancer symptoms may vary from patient to patient.

Generally, the symptoms are similar to those seen in the previous stages, which include the presence of a lump, changes in appearance of the breasts, nipple discharge, pain, soreness, and redness, etc.; the only difference is that they are more pronounced in this stage.

Along with these symptoms, patients may also experience extreme fatigue, unintended weight loss, and bone pain.

The early symptoms of breast cancer in females include nipple discharge, the appearance of new lumps in the armpit, and a change in the shape and size of the breasts. These signs of breast cancer in women should not be ignored. They have to be promptly checked by an oncologist.