The 12 signs of breast cancer that everyone needs to be aware of

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death in women – and the number is rising fast. About one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their life. An estimated 255,180 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2017, along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

While a woman with a close relative with breast cancer has a higher risk, nearly 85 percent of breast cancer occurs in women who have no family history of it. Therefore, experts advise women in their 20s to start checking their breasts each month for signs of the disease.

While the majority of women will be able to feel an unusual lump or bump, there are 11 other breast cancer signs that we should all be aware of.

Recently, an image of a tray of 12 lemons demonstrating different symptoms of breast cancer went viral on Facebook.

Erin Smith Chieze from San Diego was frustrated when Facebook started a campaign asking people to post pink hearts on their walls to raise awareness. Her frustration prompted her to share an image from the charity Worldwide Breast Cancer instead. The picture features lemons with signs every woman should be aware of. While Erin knew about self-exams, a similar picture had led to the diagnosis of her own condition and saved her life.

“In December of 2015 when I saw an indentation that looked like one of those pictures, I instantly knew I had breast cancer. I tried to feel for a tumor, but my tumor was non palpable,” Erin said. “A heart did nothing for awareness. I knew what breast cancer was. I knew all about self exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease,” she added.

Next time you examine your breast, make sure to keep these 12 signs in mind.

Breast Cancer Signs
Picture credit: Corrine Ellsworth Beaumont, founder of the charity Worldwide Breast Cancer.

1.  Thick mass

A thickening of breast tissue can be the first sign of a serious underlying condition such as lobular or inflammatory breast cancer.

2.  Indentation

Breast cancer can be tethered to the breast tissue pulling inwards; this can result in a dip or dent in the breast.

3.  Skin erosion

When cancer is growing under the skin, it can surface on rare occasions and cause a wound on the breast.

4.  Redness or heat

Redness in one-third of the breast, or a breast that feels warm to the touch, can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.

5.  New fluid

Unusual discharge from the nipple – which can be streaked with blood, brown or clear – can be a sign of breast irritation, which can lead to breast cancer.

6.  Dimpling

Dimpled skin of the breast is another common sign of inflammatory breast cancer.

7.  Bump

If you feel a localized swelling, bulge or bump, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for further investigation.

8.  Growing vein

Sometimes the growing breast tumor can block a blood vessel in the breast, which may result in a dilated vein.

9.  Retracted nipple

When the tumor is right behind the nipple, it can pull the breast issue in, resulting in an inverted nipple.

10.  New breast shape or size

While it is normal for your breast to change in size while menstruating, any change in breast size or shape not associated with the menstrual cycle should be investigated.

11.  Orange peel skin

Fluid buildups in the breast can result in skin that has ridges or appears pitted, like the peel of an orange.

12.  Invisible lump

Most cancerous breast lumps or bumps feel hard and immovable like a lemon seed.

Early detection of cancer saves lives. Learn more ways of detecting the signs of cancer at

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