Breast Cancer is the second most common cancer in women. In Pakistan, due to stigma towards breast diseases, lack of awareness and timely access to healthcare for early detection has led to rampant increase in the occurrence of this disease. In order to nip this evil in the bud, it is extremely important that every woman is aware of all the presenting symptoms of breast cancer and consult the healthcare facility right away so as to aid in early diagnosis which plays a crucial role in the prognosis of this disease.
Breast cancer can present with multiple presenting symptoms. It is seen that most symptomatic women with breast cancer have relatively shorter diagnostic interval but a substantial minority experience a prolonged journey to diagnosis. Atypical presentations (other than a breast lump) may be responsible for this.
Most typical presentation of breast cancer is a painless lump and that’s the reason majority of the women consult a healthcare professional
There are some atypical presenting symptoms of breast cancer as well. These include
• Changes to the skin’s texture
• Nipple Discharge
• Skin Dimpling
• Breast or nipple pain
• Nipple retraction or inversion
• Redness of the skin overlying breast
• Swelling
• Asymmetry in the size of both breastsAccording to a research, 1 in 6 women with breast cancer present with a symptom other than a typical lump. Greater proportions of women with non-lump symptoms waited 90 days or more before seeking help as compared to those with breast lump only symptoms. Hence, it is of paramount importance that every woman after puberty knows both typical and atypical signs and symptoms of breast cancer and consult a healthcare professional right away in case of any abnormality.

Reference: 1. Koo M, von Wagner C, Abel G, McPhail S, Rubin G, Lyratzopoulos G. Typical and atypical presenting symptoms of breast cancer and their associations with diagnostic intervals: Evidence from a national audit of cancer diagnosis. Cancer Epidemiology. 2017;48:140-146.