Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

December 14, 2021
Everett Bonner, MD
Everett Bonner, MD

Breast Surgery



A lot of patients will ask me, “What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?”


Most breast cancers, fortunately with screening, are found before it becomes a symptom or a sign. We catch these cancers very, very early, usually at a stage zero, stage one, or even stage two. And these don’t show any signs, but sometimes patients, especially younger patients who fall outside the screening recommendations, may have some type of sign or a symptom. Usually what you will find is either a palpable mass, which is a lump in the breast that feels abnormal compared to the rest of the breast tissue in your breast.


Some other things you may have: some skin changes, usually some reddening or dimpling of the skin, which is retraction of the skin. You may have some nipple retraction, where the nipple becomes inverted. Some patients will even have some discharge, usually it’s bloody discharge from the nipple. Those have about a 10% of becoming a breast cancer or an underlying diagnosis of breast cancer.


Whenever you have a palpable mass, you have skin changes, whether it’s dimpling or changes to the color of the breast, nipple inversion, nipple discharge, or anything that you’re uncomfortable with with your breast that’s outside of the normal look of the breast or feel of the breast that you’re used to, that’s probably a good time to go see a breast surgeon or a physician that has dedicated themselves to breast cancer surgery.


Key Takeaways

1. Most breast cancers are found with screening before symptoms develop.

2. Younger patients who aren’t screened might find an abnormal lump or see skin changes like reddening or dimpling of the skin.

3. You may have some nipple retraction, where the nipple becomes inverted.

4. Some patients will even have some discharge (usually blood) from the nipple.

5. If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a breast surgeon.