Breast Cancer: Everything You Need to Know

How is Breast Cancer Detected?

Breast cancer can develop for quite a while without any visible symptoms. As the cancer progresses, these symptoms may become apparent:

  • A lump or thickening in the breast or under the arm
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Discharge from the nipple or tenderness of the nipple
  • A change in the color or texture of the skin of the breast or nipple (such as dimpling, puckering, scaliness or new creases)
  • A scaly, thickened or inward-turning nipple

See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Your doctor may then order a mammogram, or an X-ray of the breast. In the United States, the government recommends that women over the age of 50 get a mammogram every two years; women who exhibit many of the risk factors listed on the last page should consult their doctors about when to start getting regular mammograms. Mammograms are often how doctors detect abnormalities in the breast, though they may also use tools such as breast ultrasound, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or biopsies.