Breast cancer is usually asymptomatic in its initial, early stage. The patient, usually during breast self-exam (BSE) or accidentally notices painless lump in the breast.
Signs and symptoms of the disease later depend on the local tumor growth, its spread in local structures and tissues, and also on localization of distant metastasis.
Therefore we distinguish:
- local symptoms
- regional symptoms
- systemic symptoms
Local symptoms – manifested by the presence of tumor in the breast, including:
- palpable painless lump (node)
- painfully sensitive lump
- indentation of skin over tumor
- indented nipple
- skin redness
- sore nipple (erosion)
- nipple discharge (serous, purulent, bloody and lacteal)
- breast fixation on breast base, on chest (pectoral) muscle
- breast deformation
Regional symptoms – due to cancer spread to regional lymph nodes. Metastases usually attach to lymph nodes in the armpit and symptoms expected include:
- painless tumefactive tissue in armpit
- painfully sensitive tumefactive tissue in armpit
- painful sensitivity, numbness or arm swelling due to cancer in armpit area
Systemic symptoms – manifested by the presence of distant metastases in the body, depending upon their location.
Systemic symptoms include: general weakness and fatigue, nausea, vomiting, neurological attack, bone pain, wheezing, choking, jaundice, swelling etc.