Symptoms - Breast cancer in women

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in Ireland (excluding skin cancer). Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer.

About 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There's a good chance of recovery if it is detected in its early stages.

It is recommended that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always get any changes examined by their GP.

Symptoms

The most important symptom of breast cancer is a breast lump, which is usually painless.

Most breast lumps (90%) aren't cancerous, but it's always best to have them checked by your doctor.

Urgent advice: You should see your GP if you notice:

  • a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.

Read more about breast pain

Related topic

Breast screening


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 15 May 2019
Next review due: 15 May 2022