Fast Five Quiz: Breast Cancer Presentation and Diagnosis

Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH


June 07, 2022

Figure 1. Light micrograph showing breast cancer cells in a case of invasive ductal carcinoma.

Very few patients with breast cancer present with breast pain or discomfort; even large tumors may be painless. Breast cancer is often first detected as an abnormality on a mammogram. In a study by Koo and colleagues, approximately 83% of women with breast cancer who were symptomatic presented with a breast lump.

Although 60%-80% of breast lumps are benign, those that are hard and painless with irregular borders are most likely to be cancerous.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Skin changes, such as swelling, redness, thickening, or dimpling (peau d'orange)

  • Change in size or shape of the affected breast — asymmetry

  • Inverted nipples

  • Nipple discharge, particularly bloody discharge

  • Ulceration

  • Dilated veins

  • Axillary lumps

Learn more about the presentation of breast cancer.


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