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Which physical findings suggest breast cancer?

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Breast cancer can present with various physical findings, and it's important to note that many of these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer. However, any changes in the breasts should be promptly evaluated by a healthcare professional. Common physical findings that may suggest the possibility of breast cancer include:

  1. New Breast Lump or Mass:

    • The most common symptom is the discovery of a new lump or mass in the breast or underarm area. It may feel firm, with irregular edges.
  2. Changes in Breast Size or Shape:

    • Unexplained changes in the size or shape of one breast or both breasts may be a cause for concern.
  3. Breast Pain or Discomfort:

    • While breast pain is more commonly associated with benign conditions, persistent or unexplained breast pain may warrant further evaluation.
  4. Changes in Skin Texture:

    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin on the breast, often described as looking like an orange peel, can be a sign of underlying issues.
  5. Skin Changes or Redness:

    • Unexplained redness, warmth, or swelling of the breast skin may be indicative of inflammatory breast cancer.
  6. Nipple Changes:

    • Changes in the nipple, such as inversion (turning inward), flattening, or changes in direction, may be a sign of underlying issues.
    • Discharge from the nipple, especially if it is bloody or occurs without squeezing, should be evaluated.
  7. Peeling or Flaking of the Nipple or Breast Skin:

    • Changes in the appearance or texture of the skin on the nipple or breast, such as peeling or flaking, should be examined.
  8. Swelling or Lumps in the Underarm Area:

    • Swelling or lumps in the lymph nodes in the underarm area (axilla) may indicate the spread of cancer.

It's important to emphasize that the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily mean a person has breast cancer. Many benign conditions can cause similar symptoms. However, any new or concerning breast changes should be evaluated promptly by a healthcare professional, who may recommend further diagnostic tests such as mammograms, ultrasound, or biopsy to determine the cause of the symptoms.

Breast cancer is often detected through routine screening mammograms or when individuals notice changes in their breasts. Regular breast self-exams, clinical breast exams, and mammograms are essential components of early detection and improved outcomes.


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