Breast cancer signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

Checking your breasts regularly can be crucial to early diagnosis of breast cancer, which increases the chances of successful treatment.

Stay breast aware and follow these five easy steps:

  1. Know what is normal for you
  2. Look and feel your breasts (upper chest and armpits too)
  3. Know what changes to look for (see below)
  4. Report any changes without delay to your GP
  5. Make sure you attend breast screening if you’re 50 or over

What should I be looking for?

Everyone’s breasts are different; altering with age and at different times of the month. Lookout for changes that are unusual for you, such as:

  • lumps or thickening of breast tissue
  • continuous pain in a breast or armpit
  • one breast becoming larger or lower
  • puckering or dimpling of the skin
  • nipples becoming inverted (turned in), changing shape or position
  • nipples developing a rash, crusting or producing discharge
  • swelling under the armpits or around the collarbone.

Not all lumps are cancerous - they may be benign cysts or overgrowth of tissue. But it is always important to report any changes to your GP.

Breast awareness in men

Men can get breast cancer too. While it is rare, around 400 men are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year.

Be vigilant and look out for:

  • swelling or painless lumps in breast tissue, often towards the nipple
  • nipples that are tender, turned in or producing discharge
  • swelling underneath the armpits 

Find out more about breast cancer in men.

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