These are risk groups for developing breast cancer, but if you started your period early, hit menopause late, are obese, and/or had no children or had them later in life, then you may be at risk as well.
But don't panic -- having any or all of these risk factors does not mean you will soon develop breast cancer. Risk factors may give a statistical picture of your cancer, but developing an eye for the signs of breast cancer can be just as helpful.
Here are the 10 most obvious signs of breast cancer.
- Lumps in the breast or armpit that linger after your menstrual cycle. This is often the first sign of breast cancer. The lumps are typically painless, although there may occasionally be bouts of prickly sensations. Lumps are often visible on a mammogram before they are felt.
- Pain or tenderness in the breast.
- Any change in size, contour, texture or temperature of the breast. Skin that is reddish and pitted like an orange peel may be a sign of advanced cancer.
- Swelling in the armpit.
- Flattening or recession of the skin where the cancer may be deep within tissues – it may not be able to be felt or seen.
- Unexplained shrinkage of breast or recent asymmetry of breasts.
- Unexplained swelling of the breast, especially if localized to one side.
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly and unexpectedly.
- Changes in the nipple, such as nipple retraction, dimpling, itching or ulcerations. A scaly rash of the nipple could signal Paget’s disease, which may have underlying implications for breast cancer.
- A hard knot, lump or thickening of the tissue inside the breast.