Diagnosis Treatments Statistics Causes Symptoms CANCER TYPES


Breast cancer manifests in two broad forms: non-invasive and invasive.

  • NON-INVASIVE BREAST CANCER (DUCTAL CARCINOMA IN SITU, DCIS): Confined to the breast ducts, DCIS is characterized by abnormal cell growth that has not spread into the surrounding tissue. It is typically detected through mammograms.
  • INVASIVE BREAST CANCER: Cancer cells breach the duct lining, infiltrating surrounding breast tissue. They may also spread through lymph nodes.

Both non-invasive and invasive breast cancers are equally serious, demanding vigilant attention.

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For you to identify the symptoms of breast cancer, you need to know your body. So don’t be afraid to do a regular breast self-exam. Most importantly, have annual or bi-annual breast cancer screening with a reproductive health specialist.

Here’re some of the breast cancer symptoms you can identify during a scan or physical exam

  • A lump in the breast 
  • Swollen lymph nodes or glands in the armpit (armpit lumps)
  • A sudden change in the shape or size of one or both breasts
  • Unexpected discharge from the nipple
  • Change in the breast skin or nipple skin
  • Inverted nipples
  • Breast pain

It’s important to note that the above symptoms are unique to each stage of breast cancer. Hence, it’s important for us to understand the UICC TNM cancer classification method, the internationally recognized and recommended cancer staging method. 


TNM stands for Tumor, Nodes, Metastases.

TNM Term

What it means


Site and size of the tumor


The regional lymph nodes that are affected


The spread of cancerous cells to other body parts

In the early stages 0 and 1, a breast tumour is detected.

Then as cancer progresses to stage 2, it affects the patient’s mammary and axillary lymph nodes.

Lastly, in the advanced stages 3 and 4, breast cancer attacks other body organs and its symptoms are noticeable in those body parts. 


What are the warning signs you should look out for in the first stages of breast cancer? The good news is early detection can increase the success rate of breast cancer treatment. 


Breast cancer starts at stage 0, whereby abnormal cells are detected but aren’t confirmed as cancerous yet.


At stage 1, the doctors confirm that the abnormal cells are cancerous after performing a breast biopsy. The signs of stage 1 breast cancer include:

  • tumour in the form of a breast lump that measures at most 2 centimetres
  • Possibly some minuscule cancer clusters in the lymph nodes

However, most breast lumps aren’t a sign of breast cancer. Hormonal changes (in both men and women) can cause temporary breast lumps that are treatable with medication, dietary supplements and other lifestyle changes that balance hormones.

A breast lump feels hard and is usually painless. It grows around or under the nipple of one breast and continues to get bigger with time. 

Since the breast has a lot of tissue, veins and ducts, it may be hard to identify a lump. The best way to distinguish it is to look for a hard mass that doesn’t move around within the breast. 


At this stage, the breast cancer spreads and;

  • The breast tumour is larger than 2 centimetres.
  • There are some lymph nodes affected by the cancer.
  • There are no metastases in other organs so far.
  • Sometimes, the patient has swelling in the breast and/or armpits.


The advanced stage of breast cancer can be scary because of the aggressive spread to other body parts. 

Yet still, you need to discuss the symptoms with a doctor who can recommend the best treatment options to kill cancer cells that are damaging multiple organs. That can include radiation treatments and chemotherapy. 


Signs of breast cancer at Stage 3 show cancerous damage to a large percentage of the breast cells. Whether the breast tumour is big or small, it’s invasive and spreads to multiple nearby lymphnodes  

Here are the symptoms you’ll possible notice as the breast cancer develops to Stage 3: 

  • Breast skin inflammation or skin ulcers
  • Visible breast swelling caused by large breast cancer tumours
  • Visible swelling in the armpits
  • Breast changes manifested in form of breast pain, enlarged or deflated breasts
  • There are no metastases in other organs so far 


Stage 4 breast cancer is also called metastatic breast cancer and is the most advanced stage. 

Unfortunately, by this stage, breast cancer affects other vital organs such as the lungs or brain.

What are the symptoms of late-stage breast cancer?

  • Nipple discharge. Enlarged or blocked breast milk ducts because of a lump or destroyed connective tissue cause nipple discharge. The discharge can also be bloody.
  • Pain and discomfort in the breast or armpits that don’t go away. 

As the cancer cells grow, they press on or damage the surrounding tissue. Where the breast tumour grows and invades the skin, the patient experiences painful sores or ulcers, and if it spreads to the chest cavity, it causes consistent chest pains. 

  • Skin changes around the nipple or entire breast. 

You may notice itchy, tingly, red, and thick skin around the nipple if you have the type of cancer called Paget’s disease of the breastInflammatory breast cancer blocks lymph vessels, causing redness, swelling and dimpled breast skin (that resembles an orange peel). 

  •  Inverted nipples are caused by tumor growth behind the nipple area.

Other symptoms that aren’t necessarily experienced around the breasts include:

  • Fatigue. Since cancer at this stage affects other vital organs, it interferes with normal body functions, making the body overwork; hence you feel tired and exhausted.
  • Insomnia. 
  • Weight loss.
  • Stomach upset and lack of appetite. due to impairment of the digestive system.
  • Difficulty in breathing if the breast cancer has spread to the lungs.

It’s also important to note that many breast cancers can reoccur. 

You need to be on the lookout for alterations in breast conditions even after full recovery. Some survivors may notice the development of a new lump or recurrence of the same symptoms diagnosed before.


If you notice any changes in your breasts, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Self-exams complement screenings, including mammograms, which offer early detection advantages.

At Miskawaan Integrative Cancer Care, our approach integrates cutting-edge technology, immune-boosting therapies, toxin elimination, and lifestyle medicine. This comprehensive strategy not only targets cancer but rejuvenates your entire being. Contact our healthcare specialists today and embark on your journey to holistic recovery. Your health, body, mind, and soul are worth reclaiming.


Ready to take the first step toward recovery? Schedule a consultation with us today to explore your personalized treatment options at MICC.