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Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women

  • Updated: 03/25/2014

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Introduction

Also Available in Spanish

book cover

Versión en español

You may be reading this booklet because you, or your health care provider, found a breast lump or other breast change. Keep in mind that breast changes are very common. Most breast changes are not cancer. But it is very important to get the follow-up tests that your health care provider asks you to.

What are breast changes?

Many breast changes are changes in how your breast or nipple looks or feels. You may notice a lump or firmness in your breast or under your arm. Or perhaps the size or shape of your breast has changed. Your nipple may be pointing or facing inward (inverted) or feeling tender. The skin on your breast, areola, or nipple may be scaly, red, or swollen. You may have nipple discharge, which is an abnormal fluid coming from the nipple.

If you have these or other breast changes, talk with your health care provider to get these changes checked as soon as possible.

This booklet can help you take these steps:

  • Call your health care provider to make an appointment as soon as you notice any breast changes.
  • Go back to see your health care provider if your mammogram result is abnormal.
  • Get all of the follow-up tests and care that your health care provider asks you to.

It may be helpful to bring this booklet with you. It discusses breast changes that are not cancer (benign), as well as changes that are abnormal or could be signs of cancer. Feel free to read different sections in this booklet as you need them.