3 Breast-Cancer Warning Signs That Don’t Involve Lumps

40 percent of breast cancers are discovered at home.

According to research published in the Journal of Women’s Health, approximately 40 percent of breast cancers are discovered at home, perhaps in the shower during a self-check for lumps and bumps. But what about the other 60 percent? Here are some symptoms to look out for to ensure that breast cancer is caught as early as possible.


Your Breast Appears Sunburned

Sometimes women notice that one of their breasts has redness or increased warmth, or the skin may become thick and pitted. This can be a possible sign of cancer and occur because the tumor cells block lymph ducts in breast tissue, says Dr. Claudine Isaacs, co­director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University. If your physician gives you antibiotics for a breast infection or a breast abscess and the redness or warmth persists, make sure to go back to make sure it’s not a sign of cancer.


Your Bra Size Changes

Women might notice some fullness or that one breast is now larger than the other. This most often is not due to cancer, but it is important to get it checked, especially if you’re in a high-risk group for breast cancer.


Your Nipple Flattens or Sinks In

Women might also notice that one of their nipples is inverted or pulled in. “This can happen when the tumor is just behind the nipple,” Isaacs says. It can also occur in other areas of the breast and can make it look as if it has dimples. Other conditions that cause nipple inversion include Paget’s disease and a breast infection.

This article appears in the October 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Ayren Jackson-Cannady

Ayren Jackson-Cannady (@ayrenjc on Instagram) is a health-and-wellness writer/editor in Arlington whose work has appeared in Prevention and Self.