Breast CancerBreast Cancer Symptoms

Let's Talk About Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Sometimes you have no clue there's a problem until your doctor says those words. But if you have a sense that something's not right, the symptoms here could be indications it's time to get things checked out.

    Our Pro PanelBreast Cancer Symptoms

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in breast cancer to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Joy’El Ballard, M.D.

    Joy'El Ballard, M.D.OB-GYN and Author of "Loving Me, Myself and Her: Through Perimenopause & Beyond"

    Annapolis, MD
    Jonathan Stegall, M.D.

    Jonathan Stegall, M.D.Medical Director

    The Center for Advanced Medicine
    Alpharetta, GA
    William Owens, M.D.

    William Owens, M.D.Director

    Aurora BayCare Medical Center Comprehensive Breast Care Center
    Green Bay, WI
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    Frequently Asked QuestionsBreast Cancer Symptoms

    I found a lump in my breast that feels smooth. Should I worry?

    Typically, breast cancer tumors are hard with irregular edges while cysts and non-cancerous tumors called fibroadenomas are smooth. But it’s still important to get it checked since occasionally cancerous tumors can feel smooth as well.

    I feel a large lump in my breast. Could I have stage IV breast cancer?

    It’s possible but not likely. The good news is that only 6% of women have metastatic, or stage IV, cancer when they are diagnosed because most begin to receive treatment before that point. See your doctor right away to be sure.

    Why do I need a mammogram?

    There are some things that you and your doctor can't detect with your own eyes. Mammograms can find tiny breast changes such as lesions called calcifications that you aren't able to see or feel from the outside. Breast cancer is most treatable when it’s found early.

    I have swelling near my neck. Is that bad?

    It could indicate that the breast cancer cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes (this can also cause hard lumps or swelling near your breastbone or under your arms). Get it checked but don’t stress too much—if the cancer spreads to your lymph nodes it doesn’t necessarily mean it has spread to other organs.

    Sunny Sea Gold

    Sunny Sea Gold


    Sunny is a health journalist, book author, and essayist living in Portland, OR.