What are the symptoms and signs of breast cancer?

Some of the symptoms and signs of breast cancer include:

  • a change in breast 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

How do I know if I have breast cancer?

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

Symptoms include a change in breast shape, a thicker lump, inverted nipple and liquid from the nipple

Symptoms include a change in breast skin texture, redness or rash around the nipple, pain or sweling.

Download image

What should I do if I notice a change to my 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 speak to our breast care nurses for free by calling 0808 800 6000 or by email.

Last reviewed: December 2016
Next planned review begins shortly

Your feedback