An estimated 12% of women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. It's the second most common cancer in women. While rare, it can also occur in men.
The primary way to find breast cancer is through breast cancer screening exams such as monthly self-exams and mammograms. If a mammogram detects a suspicious area, a follow-up ultrasound can help determine if a mass is cancerous or benign.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
The early and most common signs of breast cancer are a change in the look or feel of the breast or nipple, and nipple discharge.
During your monthly self-exam, feel for a lump and for changes that might be subtle. Here's what to look for if you find a lump:
- Smooth or jagged edges
- Firm or squishy feel
- The size and overall shape
- The date you first noticed it
- Any tenderness or discomfort in your armpits
Also look for other possible signs of breast cancer:
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Inversion of the nipple – the nipple turning inward
- Red, scaly, itchy skin that resembles the texture of an orange
- Skin that's hot to the touch
- Discharge from the nipple
If you find any of these signs and symptoms, please tell your doctor.
How do you know if you’re average or high risk?
You can determine if you're at average or high risk for breast cancer by using a breast cancer risk assessment tool from the National Cancer Institute. If your score is 20 to 25% or higher, you're considered at high risk.