About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 37. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. This is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatment. Right now there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
When breast cancer is found early, it can be easier to treat. If you are 40 or older, talk to your doctor about the screening plan that’s best for you and report any breast changes right away. Sign up for our breast cancer screening reminder and we’ll remind you to receive your screening; recommended screenings are based on our latest early detection guidelines.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Widespread use of screening mammograms has increased the number of breast cancers found before they cause any symptoms. Still some breast cancers are not found by mammograms, either because the test was not done or because even under ideal conditions mammograms do not find every breast cancer.
Breast lump or mass
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A mass that’s painless, hard, and has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it’s important to have any new breast mass, lump, or change checked by a health care provider experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- A nipple discharge other than breast milk
Sometimes breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt.
Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, see your health care provider so that he or she can find the cause.