Breast cancer symptoms
Some people have no symptoms and the cancer is found during a mammogram (a low-dose x-ray of the breast) through the National Breast Cancer Screening Program.
If you do have symptoms, they could include:
- a lump, lumpiness or thickening, especially if it is in only one breast
- a change in the size or shape of the breast
- a change to the nipple, such as a change in shape, crusting, sores or ulcers, redness, a clear or bloody discharge, or a nipple that turns in (inverted) when it used to stick out
- a change in the skin of the breast, such as dimpling or indentation, a rash, a scaly appearance, unusual redness or other colour changes
- swelling or discomfort in the armpit
- ongoing, unusual pain that is not related to your normal monthly menstrual cycle, remains after your period and occurs in one breast only.
Most breast changes aren’t caused by cancer. If you have symptoms, see your doctor without delay.
For an overview of what to expect during all stages of your cancer care, visit Optimal Care Pathways – Breast Cancer. This is a short guide to what is recommended, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.
Prof Bruce Mann, Professor of Surgery, The University of Melbourne, and Director, Breast Tumour Stream, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Marie Burke, Radiation Oncologist, and Medical Director GenesisCare Oncology, QLD; Dr Susan Fraser, Breast Physician, Cairns Hospital and Marlin Coast Surgery Cairns, QLD; Ruth Groom, Consumer; Julie McGirr, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; A/Prof Catriona McNeil, Medical Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Roya Merie, Staff Specialist, Radiation Oncology, Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Eva Nagy, Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, Sydney Oncoplastic Surgery, NSW; Gay Refeld, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Breast Care, St John of God Subiaco Hospital, WA; Genny Springham, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical support during and after treatment