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Breast Symptoms


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What are the signs of breast problems?

Breast symptoms are common symptoms that can occur in both women and men in any age group or population. Many underlying causes of breast symptoms are benign, but some types of symptoms may be caused by serious diseases, such as breast cancer.

Breast symptoms can include:

  • Breast deformity or misshapen breast

  • Breast lump (with or without pain)

  • Breast pain

  • Breast swelling

  • Breast tenderness

  • Change in the look and feel of the skin of the breast, such as dimpling or puckering

  • Change in the size, shape or appearance of the breast

  • New onset of inverted nipple

  • Nipple discharge or tenderness

  • Rash or sore on the breast or nipple

Breast symptoms can vary in character and intensity depending on the underlying cause and individual factors. They can be constant, or may only be felt when you examine or massage your breast. Breast symptoms can gradually build over weeks or months, or they can appear suddenly, such as breast symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or mastitis. They can occur in one or both breasts at a time.

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Your breasts will undergo normal changes over the course of your life in size, shape, consistency and appearance. Hormonal changes are a common cause of breast symptoms. Hormonal changes can occur at the onset of puberty; during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and menopause; and with the use of hormone medications.

Breast symptoms can also be caused by physical changes, such as weight fluctuations, or other causes, such as breast injury and breast surgery. Breast symptoms can also occur as a result of breast cancer and other diseases, disorders or conditions, such as breast infections, breast adenosis, and cysts.

Seek prompt medical care if you have unexplained breast symptoms in one or both breasts. Left undetected and untreated,some underlying causes of breast symptoms, such as breast cancer, can lead to serious or life-threatening complications. Seeking regular medical care throughout your life improves your chances of discovering some serious diseases at their earliest, most curable stages.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 15, 2016

© 2018 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Basic Information About Breast Cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Benign Breast Conditions (Benign Breast Disease). Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
  3. Breast Problems in Men. American Academy of Family Physicians.
  4. Benign Breast Problems and Conditions. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  5. Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions. American Cancer Society.
  6. Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women. National Cancer Institute.
  7. Singh H, Sethi S, Raber M, Petersen LA. Errors in cancer diagnosis: current understanding and future directions. J Clin Oncol 2007; 25:5009.

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