Community Health Network

Ranked among the nation's most integrated healthcare systems, Community Health Network is Central Indiana's leader in providing convenient access to exceptional healthcare services, where and when patients need them—in hospitals, health pavilions, workplaces, schools and homes.

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Breast cancer signs and symptoms

A screening mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer before symptoms show. However, there are common signs and symptoms associated with breast cancer to look for.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast. Small lumps and bumps are normal, but a mass that is painless, hard and has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous. If an irregular lump is detected, it should be checked by a breast care physician experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.

Other common signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Noticeable swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • A nipple discharge (that is not breast milk)
  • A lump in the underarm area

Many of these symptoms can be caused by issues other than breast cancer, but if they are detected it is best to report them to a physician so they can take a closer look.

Early detection is key

Breast self-exam

A breast self-exam is your first line of defense against breast cancer. Here is more information on how to properly perform the exam at home.

Screening mammogram

What is a mammogram?
Mammography is a tool that uses X-rays to create an image of the breast. The individual images are mammograms. Those images are used to detect signs of breast cancer, such as tumors, abnormal changes in the skin or unusual lumps.

Diagnostic mammogram vs. screening mammogram
Screening mammograms are used to look for breast disease in women who appear to have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. Diagnostic mammograms are used to diagnose breast disease in women who have breast cancer symptoms or an abnormal result on a screening mammogram.

When should I get a mammogram?
The American Cancer Society recommends having yearly screenings after age 40. If you are at a higher risk for breast cancer (family history, increasing age, etc.) a physician may recommend a mammogram before that time.

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