Breast Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors

Reviewed Feb 17, 2017

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Summary

Doctors often use additional tests to find or diagnose breast cancer.

Warning signs

Different people have different warning signs for breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all. A person may find out they have breast cancer after a routine mammogram.

Some warning signs of breast cancer are:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

Keep in mind that some of these warning signs can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.

If you have any signs that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.

Risk factors

The main factors that influence your risk for breast cancer include being a woman, being older (most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older), and having changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2). In addition, studies have shown that some other factors may also influence your risk.

Factors that decrease your risk

  • being older when you first had your menstrual period
  • starting menopause at an earlier age
  • giving birth to more children, being younger at the birth of your first child, and breastfeeding your children
  • getting regular exercise
  • maintaining a healthy weight

Factors that increase your risk

  • long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
  • personal history of breast cancer or non-cancerous breast diseases
  • family history of breast cancer (on either your mother’s or father’s side of the family)
  • treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest
  • exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) (for example, if you took DES during pregnancy or your mother took DES during her pregnancy with you)
  • dense breasts by mammogram
  • drinking alcohol
  • night-shift work

Some women will develop breast cancer even without any known risk factors. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors affect your risk to the same extent. Most women have some risk factors and most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/symptoms.htm

Summary

Doctors often use additional tests to find or diagnose breast cancer.

Warning signs

Different people have different warning signs for breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all. A person may find out they have breast cancer after a routine mammogram.

Some warning signs of breast cancer are:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

Keep in mind that some of these warning signs can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.

If you have any signs that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.

Risk factors

The main factors that influence your risk for breast cancer include being a woman, being older (most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older), and having changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2). In addition, studies have shown that some other factors may also influence your risk.

Factors that decrease your risk

  • being older when you first had your menstrual period
  • starting menopause at an earlier age
  • giving birth to more children, being younger at the birth of your first child, and breastfeeding your children
  • getting regular exercise
  • maintaining a healthy weight

Factors that increase your risk

  • long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
  • personal history of breast cancer or non-cancerous breast diseases
  • family history of breast cancer (on either your mother’s or father’s side of the family)
  • treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest
  • exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) (for example, if you took DES during pregnancy or your mother took DES during her pregnancy with you)
  • dense breasts by mammogram
  • drinking alcohol
  • night-shift work

Some women will develop breast cancer even without any known risk factors. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors affect your risk to the same extent. Most women have some risk factors and most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/symptoms.htm

Summary

Doctors often use additional tests to find or diagnose breast cancer.

Warning signs

Different people have different warning signs for breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all. A person may find out they have breast cancer after a routine mammogram.

Some warning signs of breast cancer are:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

Keep in mind that some of these warning signs can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.

If you have any signs that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.

Risk factors

The main factors that influence your risk for breast cancer include being a woman, being older (most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older), and having changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2). In addition, studies have shown that some other factors may also influence your risk.

Factors that decrease your risk

  • being older when you first had your menstrual period
  • starting menopause at an earlier age
  • giving birth to more children, being younger at the birth of your first child, and breastfeeding your children
  • getting regular exercise
  • maintaining a healthy weight

Factors that increase your risk

  • long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
  • personal history of breast cancer or non-cancerous breast diseases
  • family history of breast cancer (on either your mother’s or father’s side of the family)
  • treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest
  • exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) (for example, if you took DES during pregnancy or your mother took DES during her pregnancy with you)
  • dense breasts by mammogram
  • drinking alcohol
  • night-shift work

Some women will develop breast cancer even without any known risk factors. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors affect your risk to the same extent. Most women have some risk factors and most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/symptoms.htm

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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