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Doctors name symptoms of breast cancer that you may not know about

Doctors name symptoms of breast cancer that you may not know about Doctors have named lesser-known symptoms of breast cancer (photo: freepik.com)

In recent years, awareness of breast cancer has significantly improved. Now many women, as well as men, are aware of the main warning signs of this disease. Unusual lumps in the breasts, skin dimpling, and inverted nipples are just some of them. However, cancer doesn't always have visible or palpable signs.

WebMD reveals hidden symptoms of breast cancer that you may not know about.

Fluid from the nipple

If you are pregnant or have recently given birth and fluid is leaking from one or both nipples, it may be breast milk. But what if there are no infants? Then it could be a symptom of very early breast cancer.

In one study, two women consulted doctors about milky fluid coming from their nipples. Fluid analysis suggested cancer.

Mammograms revealed small, widespread spots. Both women underwent mastectomy and learned they had intraductal carcinoma, an early form of breast cancer.

But it is much more likely that this symptom is not a sign of breast cancer. Studies of hundreds of women have shown that nipple discharge is not related to the disease.

You may have another problem, such as galactorrhea - discharge of milk-colored liquid caused by higher levels of the hormone prolactin. If you find that your nipple is leaking, call your doctor, but don't panic.

Bloody discharge from the nipples

Many women fear breast cancer if they see a blood stain on their bra or a blood stain on their nipples. Sometimes they are right: this can be a sign of breast cancer. However, usually, it is harmless. There are many reasons why you may have bleeding from your nipples or bloody discharge from your nipples, such as:

  • Intraductal papilloma, growth in the milk duct that is not cancer.
  • Ductal ectasia, when the milk ducts widen and thicken, causing fluid buildup.
  • Clothing rubs too hard on the breasts, especially when you are physically active.

If you are not sure why your nipple is bleeding (for example, due to a sports bra), inform your doctor about this symptom at your next visit. If the problem occurs frequently, there are several ways, including surgical intervention, to stop the bleeding.

Enlargement of lymph nodes

Lymph nodes are clusters of cells that help the body filter and destroy bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances that can cause disease. Have you ever felt a lump on one or both sides of your neck when you have a cold? These are lymph nodes working hard.

It's rare, but they can swell in cancer too. In the case of breast cancer, swollen lymph nodes may appear near the armpit or collarbone.

You may notice them even before the breast tumor becomes large enough to feel. Whenever you have a swollen lymph node, especially near the armpit or collarbone, be cautious and get examined by a doctor.

Itching of the nipples

Nipple itching is a common phenomenon and usually resolves on its own or with the help of anti-itch creams.

Paget's disease is an exception. This rare form of breast cancer starts on the nipple and spreads to the surrounding skin, called the areola. Itching is a key symptom. Some others include:

  • Stinging or reddening of the nipple
  • Flaking, crusted, or thickened skin
  • Flattened nipple
  • Yellow or bloody discharge

Symptoms of Paget's disease of the breast may resemble other skin conditions, such as dermatitis or eczema. At first, it can be easy to mistake it for common problems.

Be sure to see a doctor immediately if the itching does not go away with simple procedures. The main treatment for Paget's disease is surgical intervention.

Sensitive and swollen breasts

There are several reasons why this symptom may occur. Infection is a common cause. Less commonly, it may be due to inflammatory breast cancer. This rare cancer often does not form lumps. Instead, your breasts may undergo rapid changes and become:

  • Noticeably larger
  • Discolored (red or purple)
  • Unusually warm
  • With dimpling, like an orange peel
  • Tender or painful

Inflammatory breast cancer blocks the lymphatic vessels of the breast, which normally drain excess fluid. The blockage leads to fluid buildup, causing these classic symptoms.