Thanks to breast cancer awareness initiatives launched by charities such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Breast Cancer Research Foundation, most American and American women and men know that if they, or a loved one, discover a lump in the breast, they should be tested for breast cancer. You may be surprised to learn that there is a type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer, which accounts for less than 5% of all cases, and in which a lump does not form. Instead, this type of cancer blocks lymphatic vessels, causing fluids to accumulate and causing unusual symptoms, such as persistent itchy breasts, discharge from the nipples, and a mark that looks like an insect bite that doesn't go away.
The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer depend on the part of the body where the cancer has spread and its stage. A hard, painless mass with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can also be soft, round, tender, or even painful. This condition is usually found when a doctor performs a breast biopsy for another reason, such as to investigate an unrelated breast lump. If you experience these sensations in both breasts and you are menstruating or are about to start your cycle, these symptoms are most likely the result of normal, monthly hormonal changes in your body.
People should familiarize themselves with the regular look and feel of their breasts in order to detect changes early on. Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive condition that is less common than other types of breast cancer. This means that it's also important that you know what your breasts normally look and feel like, so you're aware of any breast changes. The doctor may request a mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breast, to help distinguish between a benign mass and a malignant one.
Each form of breast cancer develops in a different part of the breast and can affect different types of tissues. We often associate pain with something bad, so when people feel tenderness or pain in their breasts, they often think of breast cancer. Mammograms (low-dose breast x-rays) can help detect a breast tumor long before it is large enough to start causing symptoms and when the cancer is likely to be treated more easily. Experts say that advances in chemotherapy have made it less common for people to need surgery after initial treatment for breast cancer.
Even so, it's important to have an experienced health professional check for any mass, lump, or other new changes in the breast so that they can find the cause and treat it, if necessary. Angiosarcoma can cause changes in the skin of the breast, such as the appearance of purple lumps that look like a bruise. A painless lump in the breast is usually the first sign of breast cancer, although you may not feel it yourself.