Lumps and nodules may be the most well documented symptom of breast cancer, but it certainly isn't the only warning sign to be wary of. Breast cancer affects one in eight women across the United States, making up a whipping 12% of the population. Each year, more than 40,000 women will die from the disease, making it more important than ever to understand the symptoms and how to spot them.

Redness and Irritation:

One of the symptoms of breast cancer besides lumps, which shows itself in the early stages of the disease is discoloration and irritation. This can be patches of red, a darkening of the nipple and aureola, and itching or soreness around the breast tissue. These changes don't always signify cancer, but should be checked nonetheless just to be sure.

Discharge and Puckering:

It isn't just on the surface that you'll notice changes to your breast. You will find that many of the symptoms of breast cancer besides lumps are inside the breast, or just beneath the surface. One of these signs is called puckering, and it happens when the tissue inside the breast changes in such a way that it makes portions of the flesh look concave or puckered.

You may also notice a discharge from the nipple; this is especially serious if the discharge is odd in color or odor.

Changes in Size and Shape:

Most women go through life with one breast being slightly different from the other, but if you notice your breasts beginning to change in shape or size, you should consider getting checked by your doctor. Breast cancer can cause large scale changes in size and shape to the point where you will notice a drastic difference in one over the other. This shape change can occur to the breast in its entirety or the nipple and aureola.

Nipple Retraction:

Some women go through life with inverted nipples. These are nipples which point inward, instead of outward. If this is something you have never experienced before, however, and suddenly your nipples are retracting into the breast, you should take it as a serious possibility that cancer, or another condition is present.

Women who experience breast cancer might experience all or none of these symptoms. Sometimes it does come down to a simple lump in the breast tissue. Acknowledging the symptoms of breast cancer besides lumps gives you a fighting chance, and open you to the opportunity of early detection.

If you, or somebody you know, is experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, or you are worried that breast cancer is a possibility due to another symptom not mentioned above, you should ask your physician to test you as soon as possible. The earlier that the disease is detected and properly diagnosed, the earlier you can start treatment. If treated properly, and early on, breast cancer can be completely manageable, and while there is no cure yet known, many women survive the cancer each year, and go on to lead otherwise healthy lives.