Fast Five Quiz: Breast Cancer Presentation and Diagnosis

Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Stefania Morganti, MD


January 11, 2023

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 women without any signs or symptoms. Evidence of a breast lump is instead the most frequent symptom at presentation, reported in approximately 83% of symptomatic women.

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 and diagnosis of breast cancer.


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