Breast cancer symptoms

November 12, 2012

Breast cancer symptoms

Cancer is often symptomless, so keep an eye out for changes in the skin and tissue of your breasts to catch cancer as quickly as possible.

The human breast uses a system of receptors to receive the reproductive and growth signals from other cells within the body. The three receptors within the breast are -

  • Estrogen receptors

  • Progesterone receptors

  • Human epidermal growth receptors

During treatment for breast cancer it is these signals for reproduction and growth which need to be destroyed so that any cancer cells do not receive the message to multiply. Research shows that patients diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer have no receptors – this makes halting the growth of cancer cells much more difficult, although typically this type of breast cancer responds well to chemotherapy. Triple negative breast cancer has similar, but not identical, breast cancer symptoms to other types of the disease.


One breast cancer symptom – which most women are aware of – is common to all types of breast cancer, which is a lump or lumps in the breast tissue. A lump, or lumps, of any size which appears to feel differently to the surrounding breast tissue does not necessarily mean a definite cancer diagnosis – it does mean, however, that you should immediately seek the advice of your health care provider. Current advice states that even if the ‘lump feels more akin to a localized swelling it may still be a symptom of breast cancer and should be investigated.

Changes in breast skin

Changes in the skin have been noted as a breast cancer symptom. If you notice any changes to the skin – areas which appear dimpled, red, scaly, irritated or thick for example – it is important to point these changes out to your health care professional; it is more than likely that these changes have been caused by a skin irritation; nevertheless, it is essential that they are checked over.

Changes in the nipple and areola

Triple negative breast cancer, as with other breast cancers, can cause changes in both the nipples and the areola. Any changes which are noticed such as pain, redness, itchiness, the nipple turning inwards or a discharge should be referred to your health care professional in order to exclude these changes as breast cancer symptoms.

Aggressive nature of triple negative breast cancer

Triple negative breast cancer has been found to be extremely aggressive in its progression rate; this means that this type of cancer grows far more rapidly than other breast cancers. Triple negative breast cancer is more likely to recur and to metastasize than other forms of the disease. Any changes to the breast which are suspected as being breast cancer symptoms will change very quickly; the size of any lump or lumps may increase very rapidly; the changes in skin color or texture will appear to be very sudden. Each individual will report a variation not only breast cancer symptoms but also in the rate that they appear or change. Even after diagnosis triple negative breast cancer will continue with its rapid progression, this makes it essential that women (and men) carry out a regular check of their breasts and the surrounding tissue, reporting any unusual changes to their health care provider promptly.

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