Certain changes in the breast may be early signs of breast cancer. Knowing what these changes look and feel like can help people access the right treatment as soon as possible.

Breast cancer is a form of cancer that affects the cells in the breasts. Following skin cancer, this type of cancer is the most common one diagnosed in women. In rare cases, it may also affect men. Breast cancer may not cause any symptoms, but a doctor will identify a mass on a mammogram. Screening for breast cancer as recommended by a doctor can help detect this condition in its earliest and most treatable stage.

For that reason, it is important to perform medical- or self-examination and seek help if you discover any of these warning signs!

Breast or nipple pain

Breast cancer can cause changes in skin cells that lead to feelings of pain, tenderness, and discomfort in the breast. Although breast cancer is often painless, it is important not to ignore any signs or symptoms that could be due to breast cancer.

Some people may describe the pain as a burning sensation.


Skin dimpling can sometimes be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, an aggressive type of breast cancer. Cancer cells can cause a buildup of lymph fluid in the breast that leads to swelling as well as dimpling or pitted skin. It is essential that anyone who notices skin dimpling speaks with a doctor.

Doctors call this change in the skin's appearance "peau d'orange" because the dimpled skin resembles the surface of an orange.

Back pain

There is a logical explanation behind pain in the back, as well.

As the breast tumors form, the growths place pressure on the ribs, which then place pressure on the spine. Back pain is always something that should be investigated by a doctor—but if it comes with nipple problems and sore breasts, that’s a big warning sign that the doctor should check for cancer cells.

Normal breast changes

Hormonal changes can happen at different stages of life, and these can lead to lumps, changes in shape, and other changes that are not due to cancer. For example, puberty, pregnancy, and menopause may cause changes in the breast because of varying levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body.

Changes in nipples

Changes in nipples, such as dry, cracked skin or unusual discharge, are a huge warning sign, the National Breast Cancer Foundation says. The symptoms can spread out, though, manifesting as anything from a sore throat and nagging cough to back pain that just won’t go away. 

Aches and pains in the breast area

It’s easy to get annual breast exams, having a medical professional examine for those telltale lumps. But keep an eye out for other symptoms, too, such as unusual aches or pains—which should be detectable before the lumps show up. Rather than pushing past the discomfort, always schedule a visit to your doctor instead.

The symptoms aren’t always localized to the breast area, either.


Skin changes can result from cancer, such as discoloration, sometimes with the appearance of bruising, redness, purplishness, or even bluish skin tones. If the area was not affected by physical trauma that might result from bruising or if the resulting discoloration does not go away, you should have it looked at by a medical professional.


Sometimes, cancer in the breast area might not appear as a distinct bump or lump but as swelling in the overall breast area, which may cause one breast to appear larger than the other or tightness in the skin area of the breast—although having different-sized breasts is normal, abnormal swelling is one potential indication of cancer.

Breast lumps or lumpiness

Many women may find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture. Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry. If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then it’s likely normal breast tissue.

Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition (such as a cyst or fibro adenoma).

See a health care provider if you:

  • Find a new lump (or any change) that feels different from the rest of your breast
  • Find a new lump (or any change) that feels different from your other breast
  • Feel something that’s different from what you felt before
  • If you’ve had a benign lump in the past, don’t assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but it’s best to make sure.

Women between 25 and 39 are invited for routine breast screening every three years

Breast screening 

 It’s important to check your breasts regularly because the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. It doesn’t matter when you check your breasts, as long as you check them regularly. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it's easiest to treat. Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.

Sign up for your screening at City International Hospital's registration counter or 028.6280.3333 (ext .8128) for instruction 

For appointment or more information about the services provided,  please contact City International Hospital

  • Operator: (8428) 6280 3333, ext. 0
  • Address: Level 3, No. 3, 17A Street, Binh Tri Dong B Ward, Binh Tan Dist. (Next to AEON Mall Binh Tan). Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Website: https://cih.com.vn/en/