Understanding Breast Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Types, & Treatment Aptly

icon-blog By -Breast Cancer Symptoms, signs of breast cancer
icon-blog By -November 24, 2023
  • Home
  • Blogs
  • Understanding Breast Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Types, & Treatment Aptly


Talk to a DoctorView Doctors Listingarrow-icon


Cancer rates and fatalities are rapidly increasing worldwide, with a particularly noticeable surge in emerging economies. Breast cancer stands out as a significant contributor, constituting 25% of all female cancer cases globally in 2018. It holds the top spot as the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in over 150 countries and is the leading cause of female cancer-related deaths in 100 of those nations. In India, the age-adjusted incidence rate of breast cancer was 25.8 per 100,000 women, making it the predominant cancer among Indian females in 2012.

Commencing a breast cancer-free journey begins with a crucial first step: arming ourselves with the knowledge of key breast cancer symptoms. The most prevalent among breast cancer symptoms in women is a breast lumps, and it holds significant predictive value for malignancy. As a result, public health education campaigns emphasizing cancer symptom awareness have consistently centered around this particular symptom.

Various studies, both on a global scale and within India, have delved into various preventive and therapeutic interventions for breast cancer. While the complexity of multiple cell types at various stages makes breast cancer prevention challenging, studies often highlight the potential to mitigate modifiable risk factors through the promotion of a healthy diet, regular physical activity, moderation of alcohol consumption, and weight control. These measures are likely to contribute to a reduction in the long-term incidence of breast cancer.

Additionally, research indicates that delayed detection is linked to poorer survival outcomes, whereas early identification facilitates more effective and cost-efficient treatment. Delays in diagnosis are particularly pronounced among older women, often attributed to inadequate knowledge of symptoms and misconceptions surrounding breast cancer and its treatment. Therefore, this Medflick article aims to enhance awareness and understanding of breast cancer symptoms, signs, and risk factors among women.

What Are Breast Cancer Symptoms?

Although breast cancer symptoms are commonly linked to the presence of a breast lumps, these can vary depending on the specific type of breast cancer. While a lump and skin changes in breast cancer is a prevalent symptom, it's crucial to recognize that it can occur without these also. Therefore, understanding the additional signs of breast cancer is essential. Typical breast cancer symptoms include:

  • The presence of a persistent breast cancer lumps in the breast or underarm. This is often the early symptoms of breast cancer, detectable through a mammogram before it becomes visible or palpable.
  • Swelling in the armpit or near the collarbone, indicating potential spread to lymph nodes in that region. Swelling may precede the detection of breast cancer lumps, prompting the need to inform your doctor if observed.
  • Pain and tenderness, though breast cancer lumps typically do not cause discomfort. Some may elicit a prickly sensation.
  • An area on the breast that appears flat or indented, possibly a one of the breast cancer symptoms unseen or unfelt tumor.
  • Changes in the breast, such as variations in size, contour, texture, or temperature.
  • Alterations in the nipple, including inward pulling, dimpling, burning, itching, or the development of sores.
  • Unusual nipple discharge, which may be clear, bloody, or have a different color.
  • A marble-like region beneath the skin that feels distinct from other parts of either breast.
  • Indications of Paget's disease of the breast, an uncommon form of breast cancer, can include a nipple that appears red, scaly, or flaky, as well as persistent changes in the skin, including the discharge of blood or fluid from the nipple.
  • Referred to in medical circles as "peau d'orange," which translates to the skin of an orange in French, any dimpling or thickening of the breast skin resembling the texture of an orange rind is one of the breast cancer symptoms. These indicators are commonly associated with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), an infrequent yet aggressive condition that typically lacks a palpable breast cancer lumps and might go unnoticed on a mammogram.

There are certain factors that become the causes of breast cancer include:

  • Advancing age
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Inherited mutations in genes such as BRCA2, BRCA1 (more prevalent among those with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage), and CHEK2
  • Exposure to female hormones, whether natural or administered
  • Onset of menstruation before the age of 12
  • Previous diagnosis of breast cancer
  • History of specific non-cancerous breast conditions.

Additionally, lifestyle factors that marginally increase the risk of this cancer in women and men (rarely) include:

  • Being overweight
  • Insufficient physical activity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Prior exposure to radiation

What Are The Breast Cancer Types?

Healthcare professionals identify breast cancer types and subtypes on the basis of breast cancer symptoms, visibility tests, and laboratory tests. This helps to customize treatment for optimal effectiveness with minimal side effects. 

Common types of breast cancer include:

Invasive (Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma (IDC):

It originates in milk ducts and spreads to nearby breast tissue.

Lobular Breast Cancer:

It arises in milk-producing glands (lobules), often extends to adjacent breast tissue.

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS):

Similar to IDC, this cancer commences in milk ducts but confines its spread to within the ducts.

Less prevalent types include:

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC):

It is an aggressive, swiftly spreading invasive cancer.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC):

It is a rare, fast-growing cancer resembling a rash on the breast.

Paget’s Disease of the Breast:

It is a rare cancer impacting the skin of the nipple, exhibiting rash-like characteristics, constituting less than 4% of all breast cancers.

The breast cancer has various subtypes also. Each subtype exhibits varying breast cancer symptoms. This categorization is based on receptor cell status, These receptors are proteins on or within cell surfaces. These receptors can interact with substances in the blood like hormones (estrogen and progesterone), thereby fostering the cancer growth. Determining the presence of estrogen or progesterone receptors in cancer cells aids healthcare providers in strategizing the treatment. The subtypes include:

ER-Positive (ER+):

Featuring estrogen receptors.

PR-Positive (PR+):

Displaying progesterone receptors.

HR-Positive (HR+):

Possessing both estrogen and progesterone receptors.

HR-Negative (HR-):

Lacking estrogen or progesterone receptors.

HER2-Positive (HER2+):

Exhibiting elevated HER2 protein levels, constituting 15% to 20% of all breast cancers.

What Are Breast Cancer Complications?

The primary breast cancer complications include development of metastatic breast cancer, where the cancer spreads to various parts of the body (such as the brain, bones, liver, and lungs) and exhibits very detrimental breast cancer symptoms. Research indicates that approximately one in three women with early-stage cancer eventually develop metastatic breast cancer. 

Read More: Top 10 and Best Countries For Cancer Treatment

What Are The Breast Cancer Treatment Options?

The choice of treatment depends upon the extent of the cancer spread and gravity or intensity of symptoms. It involves following procedures depending upon the severity and spread of the cancer:


It involves evaluating the size of the breast cancer and its potential spread to the lymph nodes under the arm. A CT scan of the chest, liver, and a bone scan is conducted to examine common sites to which this cancer may spread.


For localized cancer, the most extensive surgical option involves removing the breast and lymph nodes under the arm. When only part of the breast is removed, it is known as breast-conserving surgery or a lumpectomy. Radiotherapy is typically recommended following breast-conserving surgery. If the entire breast is removed, it is termed a mastectomy.

Breast Prostheses and Reconstruction:

Before or after surgery, considerations about restoring breast shape may arise. Options include a breast prosthesis, a synthetic breast worn in a bra or under clothing, or breast reconstruction, an operation to create a new breast. Patients are encouraged to discuss these options with their healthcare team.


Chemotherapy may be employed to shrink the cancer before surgery, in cases of a high risk of cancer recurrence, or if the cancer returns post-surgery or radiation therapy. It is also considered for HER2 positive cancers or those unresponsive to hormone therapy.

Radiation Therapy (Radiotherapy): 

Recommended after breast-conserving surgery to eliminate any undetected cancer, radiation therapy is also advised if lymph nodes under the arm were removed and there is a risk of cancer recurrence in that area. In some instances, radiation therapy may follow a mastectomy if there is a risk of cancer recurrence in the chest area.

Hormone Therapy: 

Using drugs to lower female hormone levels, hormone therapy aims to halt or slow the growth of hormone receptor-positive cancer cells. The choice of hormone therapy depends on factors such as age, the type of breast cancer, and menopausal status.

Targeted Therapy: 

Targeted therapy drugs focus on specific targets within cancer cells. Currently, these drugs are applicable only to HER2 positive breast cancer.

Palliative Care:

In certain cancer cases, discussions about palliative care may occur. Palliative care aims to enhance the quality of life by alleviating cancer symptoms. Apart from slowing cancer spread, palliative treatment can alleviate pain and manage other symptoms, often involving radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other drug therapies.

Read in Hindi: Breast Cancer Causes and Symptoms in hindi

To Summarize

The journey of breast cancer, while challenging, is marked by stories of resilience, hope, and triumph. In conclusion, understanding the diverse array of breast cancer symptoms is paramount for early detection and intervention. By recognizing signs beyond the common lump, such as changes in skin texture, nipple alterations, or persistent pain, individuals empower themselves to prioritize their health. 

Let knowledge be the beacon guiding us toward proactive awareness and ultimately improving outcomes in the fight against breast cancer. Rely on Medflick as your trustworthy source for precise, current, and reliable information on breast cancer symptoms or any other health-related subjects. Your health and overall well-being deserve nothing less than well-informed and thoughtful guidance.

Need Assistance?

Stay Informed, Stay Healthy

Subscribe to our Newsletter and make your informed health decisions. Get essential health insights and updates delivered straight to your inbox. Join now for a healthier you.