Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer can include:

  • a change in size or shape
  • a lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
  • a change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
  • redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • your nipple has become pulled in or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
  • liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing
  • pain in your breast or your armpit that’s there all or almost all of the time
  • a swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone

Many symptoms of breast cancer, such as breast pain or a lump, may in fact be caused by normal breast changes or a benign (not cancer) breast condition. However, if you notice a change, it’s important to see your GP (local doctor) as soon as you can.

Some people think that having breast cancer will cause other symptoms apart from a breast change, such as feeling tired, having less energy or weight loss, but this is not the case. If you notice a change, even if you feel well, it’s important to visit your GP.

Learn more about how to check your breasts.

Download our signs and symptoms of breast cancer infographic.

Tell your doctor as soon as you notice a change to your breasts

Most breast changes will not be cancer. However, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK so it is important that you find out what’s causing the change.

If your GP is male and you don’t feel comfortable going to see him, you can ask if there’s a female doctor available. You can also ask for a female nurse or member of staff to be present during your examination, or you can take a friend or relative with you.

When your GP examines your breasts they may feel that there is no need for further investigation, they may ask to see you again after a short  time or they may refer you to a breast clinic. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have breast cancer, just that further tests are needed to find out what is going on.  

Find out more about being referred to a breast clinic.

If you're worried about breast health or breast cancer you can call us free on 0808 800 6000.

Last reviewed: December 2016
Next planned review begins 2018

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Please note that we cannot respond to comments. If you have any questions about breast cancer please contact the Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

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