Breast cancer

Noticing symptoms

Breast cancer

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Cancers and other diseases can cause symptoms. These are changes in your body that you notice. Most breast cancers cause changes in the breast that can be seen or felt.

Not all breast changes are caused by cancer. However, it is always best to let your doctor know about any symptoms you have.

What you need to know

Breast cancer symptoms

It is important to be ‘breast aware’ and know how your breasts look and feel normally. Breast awareness can help you spot any changes early.

Everyone has different breasts. Some are uneven. Others are lumpy or have inverted nipples. What is important is to be aware of any CHANGE.

Changes to breasts can include:

  • a lump or thickening in the breast
  • dimpling in the skin of the breast
  • a change in shape or size of the breast
  • a lump in one of your armpits
  • discharge (leaking fluid) from your nipple
  • a rash or itching around the nipple
  • the nipple going inwards instead of sticking out
  • pain (this is uncommon).
If you have any breast changes that you are worried about you should go to see your general practitioner. Don't be embarrassed to ask. Cancers that are diagnosed early can be easier to treat.

Breast cancers found through screening

Not all breast cancers are found because of symptoms. Some are found through screening.

Breast screening is a way of finding early breast changes before they cause any symptoms. This is important as breast cancers that are found early are easier to treat.

Australia has a national breast cancer screening program called BreastScreen. This invites women aged between 50 and 74 for a free mammogram every two years. 

People with a family history of breast cancer may need a different screening plan. This can include testing more often and from an earlier age. 

For more information contact BreastScreen or talk to your GP.

Screening is for people who don’t have any symptoms. If you have breast symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Next steps

What to do if you have symptoms

If you have symptoms that you are worried about, even if they seem minor, you should go to see a GP. Don't be embarrassed to bring up your concerns. 

Remember, cancers that are found earlier can be easier to treat.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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