Condition: Breast symptoms and breast awareness

There are various common symptoms you should be on the lookout for when regularly checking for breast cancer.

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Common breast symptoms

The following is a list of common symptoms that you may experience in your breast. If you experience any of the below, it is recommended that you visit your doctor to arrange a mammogram (breast screening).

  • Discolouration, rash or change in appearance of nipple – this includes eczema, where an itchy, dry rash develops around the areola
  • Change in shape of breast or any skin dimpling
  • Discharge of any colour from the nipple
  • Breast lump
  • Breast discomfort
  • Breast pain (mastalgia)
  • Breast abscess – this is a painful build-up of pus in the breast caused by an infection. It mainly affects women who are breastfeeding. An ultrasound scan will be performed to confirm the abscess with puss then drained through a needle.
  • Lump or swelling in the armpit (axilla)
  • Mastitis – breast tenderness and pain, redness of skin, rash, feeling hot with flu-like symptoms
  • Gynaecomastia – An increase in the amount of breast gland tissue in males causing one or both breasts to look larger than normal. Swelling may be painful or tender.
  • Fibroadenoma – this typically has a well-defined round or oval shape and a rubbery-feeling and is painless. When you touch it, it’s easy to move around under the skin as opposed to being stuck in one place. An ultrasound scan will be performed and a needle test carried out to confirm.

Diagnosing the cause, and why you need a mammogram/ultrasound

If you have found a lump or any other concerning symptoms in your breast, it is advised to contact your GP or your private health insurer as soon as possible.

Generally, if you’re showing any of the symptoms above, and you are over the age of 40, to ensure correct diagnosis the gold standard for patients is to perform a mammogram followed by a breast ultrasound with a needle test if your radiologist sees that it is necessary.

In patients who are younger than 40 often initial imaging will be with a breast ultrasound scan and mammograms will be added if deemed clinically appropriate by the Consultant Radiologist.

Breast awareness

You can read more about what to look out for with changes in your breast by downloading our simple guide:

Patient Information - Breast Awareness