Breast Cancer: Hiding in More than Just Lumps

Breast Cancer: Hiding in More than Just Lumps

Finding breast cancer can be tricky – hide and seek is often the challenge we mammographers face. Sometimes, misinformation helps hide it further, so we’d like to shine a light (and an occasional x-ray) on the subject.


Breast cancer may be described as a “lump” and many mistakenly assume if there’s no lump to feel then there can be no cancer. Being able to feel a lump with your fingertips – or through your doctor’s careful exam –  isn’t always possible. This is why mammography is such a great tool: we can screen for cancer before there is a lump.


Symptoms of breast cancer beyond a lump include many other changes to the breast and axillary tissue. This is why self-exams are so important: know what your normal is so you’ll be able to identify a change. Any changes from your normal should prompt a look by your doctor – and maybe a referral for breast imaging!

A recent study in the UK showed that one in six breast cancer patients have symptoms that aren’t lumps. Surprised? That’s why we wanted to share. In addition, when the symptom was not a lump, there was often a delay in the woman coming for care and a delay in diagnosis.


This clever infographic by Worldwide Breast Cancer helps illustrate the symptoms to look for which include these:

  • Change in size of the breast, especially when one-sided and not expected based on overall weight change
  • Change in shape of the breast
  • Indentations or pulling in of the skin or nipple
  • Changes in the skin of the breast or the skin around the nipple, including rashes or orange peel-like texture
  • Leakage from the nipple, especially if bloody
  • Heat or redness of the breast
  • New thickening, hardness or firmness of the breast

The bottom line – if it feels wrong or different to you, get it checked out! Together, we can help empower ourselves and our loved ones with knowledge in the hopes of achieving our goal of early detection. Here is one woman’s moving story.



(Image credit: Cat Sniper by Larry and Teddy Page. Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))