Breast cancer among women is rising at an alarming rate all across the world. Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and develops in one in every eight women.

This dangerous disease develops initially through a small tumor in the tissue of the breasts. If the disease is cancerous, it spreads gradually through the lymph nodes.

  1. Breast pain

The first symptom of breast cancer is chest or breast pain. This disease, which has often proved to be fatal, starts with seed-like lumps. These cause different kinds of discomfort or pain. If the pain is occurring frequently, inform a doctor immediately.

  1. Breast lump

A doctor can detect a lump while performing a breast exam. You can also try this yourself at home. A lump is one of the earliest warning signs of breast cancer. While you carefully press your breast as well as its surrounding areas with your fingers, you will find a small lump if you have developed breast cancer. Both malignant and benign breast lumps form beneath the armpit. While the former is cancerous, the latter is non-cancerous. As an early warning, you can find small lumps near lymph nodes in the collarbone as well as surrounding the nipples. The lumps are tender, rigid, and hard, and don’t move when you apply pressure to them.

  1. Itchy breasts

Itchy breasts are another symptom of breast cancer. This is mostly associated with inflammation or tenderness of the breast. Often, dermatologists may suggest creams for a rash. However, if it is extremely itchy and you feel like scratching, do not hesitate to consult with the doctor. The itchy sensation can also be accompanied by another symptom, which is nipple discharge when you are not breast-feeding. Also, you may find changes in the texture of the breast tissue.

  1. Breast shape change

Change in breast shape, appearance, or size is another symptom. You or your partner might notice this change when you put on your bra. The extra growth of tissue might push your breast out of its original shape or size.

  1. Change in nipple sensitivity

As another warning symptom, you can also observe a transformation in the appearance or sensitivity of the nipple. You might observe that the nipples have become indented, flattened, or inverted. Also, you may observe a reduction in the sensitivity of the nipples or they may stick up less. In addition, the skin of the nipple becomes scaly, inflamed, or crusty.

  1. Inflammation and redness in breasts

Redness or swelling in the breasts may be another early sign of breast cancer. You may experience sore and swollen breasts or redness and hotness in the underlying tissue and skin. They may also turn purple. Breast tumors push on the tissue, causing sore and swollen breasts.

  1. Stiffness or pain in neck, shoulder, and upper back

This can also be one of the early signs of breast cancer in women. You may feel pain in the bones that is deep and throbbing. This is because initially the breast cancer has spread to the ribs or the spine.

If you observe any of the above symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.