Symptoms of Breast Cancer

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Early breast cancer usually does not cause pain. In fact, when breast cancer first develops, there may be no symptoms at all. But as the cancer advances, it can cause changes that may include:

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area, which may not cause pain

  • A change in the size or shape of the breast, perhaps with visible veins that are more prominent on one breast

  • A discharge from the nipple

  • A portion of the skin on the breast or underarm that is swollen and may have an unusual appearance

  • A change in the color or feel of the skin of the breast, areola or nipple (dimpled, puckered or scaly)

If you notice any of these changes, you should contact your doctor right away. In most cases, they are not a symptom of cancer, but only your doctor can determine that. Women's breasts may have lumps that can be felt, but only a small percentage is malignant, or cancerous.

For Those at Increased Risk for Breast Cancer

The Margaret Dyson Family Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase was designed for women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, which can increase your risk for the disease. However, most breast cancers are diagnosed in women with no family history. Women with a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer should consider genetic counseling through this program, which offers a range of breast cancer prevention services.

For more information about breast cancer treatment and prevention at Fox Chase Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-888-FOX CHASE (1-888-369-2427). The breast cancer scheduling department can be reached at 215-728-3001.