The thought of having cancer terrifies most people, but with proper screening and tests, like mammograms, tracking the warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer has made it much easier to detect it and treat it during the early stages. When caught early, breast cancer can be an entirely manageable disease.

Breast cancer looks different in different women. For some, it may be highly obvious and cause visible signals that something is wrong. In others, it is a quiet visitor which sneaks up and can catch us unexpected. Knowing what to look for can greatly increase your chances of catching it before it can spread to other parts of the body.

Pain and Itching:

As with many other illnesses, the body often reacts to breast cancer by sending out signals of pain or discomfort in the breast region. Nipples and surrounding tissue may become sore or itchy. Unfortunately, this can be a sign for many other ailments or natural functions of female life, which is why it must be taken seriously each time something abnormal is detected.

Bumps and Discharge:

The most noticeable and well known of the warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer is a lump in the tissue. This can be found through self examination or during a mammogram. Following the mammogram, your doctor will either perform an ultrasound or a biopsy on the mass to determine whether it is fatty tissue or a dangerous nodule, which could become a tumor.

A secondary symptom, which is quite common in the early stages of breast cancer, is discharge. Nipple discharge in a woman who is not pregnant is rare and should always be taken seriously. This is especially true if the discharge is abnormally colored or has a scent to it.

Heat and Discoloration:

As far as warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer go, there are plenty of visual signs to watch for. Discoloration in the nipples and surrounding breast tissues, for example, can mean that something is wrong. Redness is quite common as well, and many women report feeling high levels of heat in these darkened regions of the skin.

Puckering and Shape Change:

Some of the later warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer include changes to the outer tissues of the breast. Puckering of the skin which causes pockmarks and lumpiness, size changes to the nipple or breast as a whole, and inverted nipples, all point to a problem beneath the surface. Swelling, and itchy rashes on the nipple and breast tissue are also a strong indicator that something is wrong.

If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, speak to your doctor, or make an appointment to have a mammogram. One symptom on its own may be due to some other unknown factor, but it's always better to be safe, and test early, than miss a warning sign.

Any changes in the appearance or sensation of your breast tissue is worth mentioning to a physician. Feeling a sharp pain, noticing a new mole, or sensing a hard mass inside, are equal warning signs that breast cancer could be present.