The most cited symptom of breast cancer is the nodule. Dr. Andrea Sagona, from the Breast Unit at Humanitas Cancer Center, spoke on dBlog of She explains that a nodule or lump is not the only symptom and not always linked to breast cancer.

In addition to a lump, hard pebbles and irregular contours, patients may present infection and inflammation. Anomalies of the nipple (for example, when it is retracted), ulcers, orange skin that is peeling, blood or serous secretions, swelling of the arm or armpit are also indications of breast cancer.

“It is difficult to make an exhaustive list: what is important is to note any changes, especially if asymmetric. Standing in front of the mirror can help to assess the symmetry between the two breasts. Deformity of the breast profile in comparison to the other breast is a wake-up call.”


When to seek a breast specialist

These symptoms are also mentioned in a recent study conducted by the University College London. They studied a sample of more than 2,300 patients with breast cancer. One out of six women in fact present these symptoms in addition to the lump. The study also shows that women with these symptoms (ulcers of the breast, nipple abnormalities, infection or inflammation and swelling and pain in axilla) go to the doctor later compared to those who only realize the presence of a nodule.

“In case of suspicion, however, the first thing to do is report them immediately to a breast specialist, preferably in a specialized center for breast disease, who will prescribe the most appropriate testing,” says Dr. Sagona.

We should explain that “a lump is not always a breast cancer signal. It may be due to normal glandular abnormalities according to the menstrual cycle, or may be a benign growth”, comments Dr Sagona, as well as some of the other symptoms mentioned, for example, retraction of the nipple or the serum secretions or blood.

Inspection and self-examination are the means to get to know your own body and notice these signs”, concludes Dr. Sagona.