Clues for Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Armen Hareyan's picture

Breast Cancer Detection

The best way to beat breast cancer is to detect it early.

If you notice a lump or thickened area in your breast that's new or unusual, contact your doctor. Single lumps can appear at any time and come in various types and sizes.

A lump that's painless, hard and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. However, some cancers are tender, soft and rounded or feel like a thickened area with indiscrete edges. Tumors often develop in the upper outer portion of the breast, but can occur anywhere, including the nipple area.

While lumps are the most common sign of breast cancer, there are others. The October issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource details other signs and symptoms:

  • New difference in the size or shape of one breast compared to the other

  • Persistent swelling or redness on part of your breast

  • Any flattening or indentation of the skin over your breast


  • Dimpling, thickening or puckering of the skin of one breast

  • A clear, colored or bloody discharge from your nipple

  • A new inversion of your nipple that can't be turned outward

  • Thickening or irritation of a nipple, accompanied by crusting, itching or burning

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your armpit or collarbone region

If you notice these changes, have them evaluated by your doctor.

Although you should be wary of changes, breast cancer often doesn't display signs or symptoms: especially in the earlier stages of the disease. That's why mammograms are such an important screening tool. If you're 40 or older, have an annual screening mammogram and clinical breast exam.