Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021: Can there be breast cancer without lumps? Here's what you should know

Updated on Oct 14, 2021 11:14 AM IST  |  32.9K
Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021: Can there be breast cancer without lumps? Here's what you should know
Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021: Can there be breast cancer without lumps? Here's what you should know

One might notice lumps or a change in the texture of your breast during a breast self-exam. While this may cause concern, it's crucial to remember that most breast lumps aren't malignant. Although a lump can be malignant or precancerous, various benign breast lumps form. In fact, many benign breast changes can be mistaken for breast cancer.


Around 1 in 6 women who are subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer come with a symptom other than a lump. The researchers discovered that women who have a sign of breast cancer other than lumps are more likely to wait to see a doctor than women who do not have lumps. If the cancer isn't detected promptly, this could put them in danger of having a poorer outcome. 


We encourage women to become familiar with their breasts and report any changes to their doctor as soon as possible. When a woman feels a lump, it is usually not during a self-directed monthly exam but rather when she notices it by chance. Most lumps women feel are not cancer, but they should be investigated with mammography and ultrasound because you can't determine if it's cancer by how it feels. A core biopsy is needed in most of the cases to confirm. 


breast cancer


Some of the warning signs are:


Changes in the nipple and surrounding area:


Changes in the nipple area could indicate cancer, but nipple retraction when the nipple becomes inverted could be a sign of genetic abnormality or change. Consult your doctor if your nipple gets inverted after not being inverted previously.


Bloody nipple discharge:


While nipple bleeding may be minimal and difficult to perceive, pay attention if you discover blood spots on your bra. Regular physiologic changes during the prepubertal phases can result in clear or milky discharges. However, if the secretions are unusual, bloody, or persistent, consult your doctor.


Changes in the color and thickness of the breast skin:


 Any dimpling or thickening that resembles an orange peel is a warning sign. These signs and symptoms are frequently linked to inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a rare but deadly illness that rarely causes a lump and can go undetected on a mammogram. Cancer cells in the skin restrict lymph veins, causing IBC symptoms.


A non-healing sore anywhere on the breast, including the nipple: A red, scaly, flaky nipple, as well as any persistent skin changes, such as blood or fluid from the nipple, could indicate a rare form of breast cancer. The nipple is where the sickness starts. It's not usually invasive, and individuals in their 70s are the most likely to be diagnosed with it.


breast cancer


Lymph nodes in the armpit:


The lymph nodes are in charge of filtering lymph fluid and detecting chemical changes that indicate the presence of an infection. Doctors refer to these filter points as axillary lymph nodes. Because axillary lymph nodes are so close to the breasts, they are frequently the first places where breast cancer spreads after it has progressed beyond the breast tissue. Commonly required for any form of breast cancer treatment. If cancer has advanced to the axillary lymph nodes, a doctor may advise removing the lymph nodes as part of the treatment to remove the cancerous cells.


The majority of benign breast illnesses are curable, and some even go away on their own, but you should let your doctor tell you that. A medical practitioner should examine any breast lumps and advise you on the best course of action. Because of the changes in breast tissue that occur during the month due to hormonal changes, it's usually a good idea to undertake a self-exam at the same time each month, such as a few days after your menstrual cycle ends.


About the author: Dr Sandeep Nayak P, Director - Department of Surgical Oncology & Robotic & Laparoscopic Surgery, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru


Also Read: EXCLUSIVE: Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021: Is breast cancer curable? Expert REVEALS