Cancer often begins with subtle warning signs that are easily overlooked. Early detection is key to successful treatment and improved outcomes. Among the various types of cancer, breast cancer is one of the most prevalent in women worldwide.1 Understanding the red flags for cancer, the subtle signs and symptoms that warrant attention and potential screening, particularly for breast cancer, can empower individuals to take proactive steps towards their health.

Red Flags for Breast Cancer:

  • Changes in Breast Appearance or Texture:2 Any changes in the size, shape, or texture of the breast or nipple should raise concern. This includes dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin, as well as nipple inversion or discharge (other than breast milk). Being familiar with your breasts can help with noticing these changes.
  • Breast Lumps or Masses: While not all breast lumps are cancerous, any new lump or mass found in the breast or underarm area should be examined by a healthcare provider. Breast self-awareness, including being familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts, can aid in the early detection of abnormalities.
  • Persistent Pain: Persistent pain in the breast or chest area, not related to your menstrual cycle or an injury, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. While breast pain is more commonly associated with benign conditions, it can sometimes be a symptom of breast cancer.
  • Changes in Breast Skin: Changes in the skin over the breast, such as redness, scaliness, or the appearance of a rash, may indicate an underlying issue. In some cases, the skin may resemble the texture of an orange peel, a condition known as peau d’orange, which can be associated with inflammatory breast cancer.
  • Swelling or Enlargement of One Breast: Significant swelling or enlargement of one breast, especially when accompanied by other symptoms such as pain or skin changes, should be reviewed by a healthcare provider. This may indicate an underlying problem that requires medical attention.
  • Family History and Genetic Factors: A family history of cancer, particularly breast or ovarian cancer, can increase an individual’s risk. Additionally, certain genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, significantly elevate the risk of developing breast cancer. Knowing your risk is an important step in prevention, early detection, and treatment of breast cancer. To find out if you are a candidate for the MyRisk with RiskScore, visit

While experiencing one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, it’s essential not to ignore them. Remember, early detection saves lives.