Breast Cancer Symptoms


Breast cancer can be found in both men and women but is most often found in women. It occurs when breast cells grow out of control, forming a mass or sheet of cells called a tumour. A tumour can be cancerous, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body or it can be benign, which means the tumour can grow but has not spread. If breast cancer travels to other parts of the body and forms new tumours it is called metastatic breast cancer.

The symptoms of breast cancer may vary widely from lumps to swelling to skin changes. However, some breast cancers have no obvious symptoms at all. It is most often associated with having a breast lump, located anywhere along the chest wall to under the armpit.  Having some of these symptoms or breast changes does not necessarily mean it is breast cancer as many other factors go into a diagnosis.

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we would be providing detailed information about the symptoms of breast cancer, its causes and risk factors, diagnosis and treatment.

Signs & Symptoms

It is important for women to know what their breasts normally look and feel like so that they are aware of any changes in their breasts.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a painless lump or an area of thickened tissue in the breast. Many lumps cannot be felt instead, they are detected by a routine screening mammogram. Most women do not have any apparent signs of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis in the early stages of breast cancer and the tumour is rarely noticeable. 

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer can vary from person to person but some early warning signs may include:

  • a new lump or thickening in either breast that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • a discharge of fluid from either of your nipples
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
  • changes to the skin over the breast, such as puckering or dimpling
  • a newly inverted nipple
  • peeling, scaling, crusting or itchy skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
  • redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange
  • general pain in/on any part of the breast

Most symptoms are not cancerous, but it is recommended to get yourself checked by the doctor so the cause can be found and treated. Non-cancerous breast tumours are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside of the breast. They are not life-threatening, but some types of benign breast lumps can increase a woman's risk of getting breast cancer. 

Breast pain is not usually a sign of breast cancer but look out for pain in your breast or armpit and be sure to see your doctor right away.

Although rare, men can get breast cancer. The most common symptom of breast cancer in men is a lump in the chest area.

Breast Examination

Just follow this simple method to examine your whole breast area, including up to your collarbone (upper chest) and armpits for any unusual changes:

  • Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
  • Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
  • Check any new or unusual changes with your doctor

Risk Factors

There are certain risk factors to affect your likelihood of developing breast cancer:

§  Age: Breast cancer is most common in women over the age of 50 who have been through menopause

§  Family history: If someone in your family has had breast or ovarian cancer, you may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

§  Previous breast cancer or lump: If you have previously had breast cancer, you have a higher risk of developing it again.

§  Dense breast tissue: Women with dense breast tissue may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer as there are more cells that can become cancerous.

  • Early menstruation: If you had your first period before 12 years old, you have an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Giving birth at an older age: People who have their first child after 35 years old have an increased risk of breast cancer.
  •  Hormones and hormone medicine: Female hormone estrogen can sometimes stimulate breast cancer cells and cause them to grow.
  •  Contraceptive pill: Women who take the contraceptive pill have a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer. 

 Life style factors:  Being overweight, smoking, high-fat diet and alcohol consumption all contribute to increasing the risk of breast cancer.


It is highly recommended to see your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms of breast cancer. The doctor will do an examination and if they think your symptoms need further assessment, they will refer you to a breast cancer specialist.

If you are below the age of 35, you should get an ultrasound done. But if you are above the age of 35, you must get your mammogram yearly. You may also need a biopsy, if your doctor sees anything suspicious on the imaging tests, they may take a biopsy of your breast tissue.

If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of cancer such as a CT scan, chest X-ray and liver ultrasound to check whether the cancer has spread. An MRI scan of the breast may help to clarify the results or assess the extent of the condition within the breast.


The treatment varies from person to person but the main treatments for breast cancer are:

  • surgery
  • radiotherapy
  • chemotherapy
  • hormone therapy
  • immunotherapy
  • targeted therapy

The type of treatment will depend on:

  • the stage and grade of cancer (how big it is and how far it has spread)
  • the general health
  • whether you have experienced menopause


Breast cancer can be a silent killer as it may not cause any symptoms in its early stages. Early intervention is the key to the detection of breast cancer. It is advised for women to perform a self-examination every month after the age of 20or get an ultrasound of a single of both breasts.  After the age of35, it is important to get a mammogram every year.

Moreover, having a healthy lifestyle, getting regular screenings, and taking any preventive measures your doctor recommends can help lower the risk of developing breast cancer.

In an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer, Shifaam is offering mammograms for Rs. 3000/- only. If you have missed your mammogram this year, visit our website today to book the test now!

To book an online or physical consultation with the best oncologist in Karachi visit You can also download the Shifaam Health App from Google Play Store ( or the iOS App Store( We are just a call from 021-37132273 or Whatsapp at 03477222273 away!

If you're concerned about your risk of developing breast cancer, you should see an oncologist in Karachi at your earliest. For more information on Oncologists in Karachi or for an appointment with experienced doctors click on the links below:


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