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Symptoms - Breast cancer in women

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in Ireland (excluding skin cancer).

About 1 in 7 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer.

In rare cases men can get breast cancer.

There's a good chance of recovery if the breast cancer is found when it is in its early stages.

Check your breasts regularly for any changes.

Go to a GP if you have any changes or symptoms. Do this even if you had a recent mammogram that was normal.

How to check your breasts

Symptoms of breast cancer

The most important sign of breast cancer is a breast lump.

Most breast lumps (9 in 10) are not cancerous. But it's always best to have them checked by a GP.

There are other signs of breast cancer.

Urgent advice: Contact your GP if you notice:

  • a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast
  • 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 how your nipple looks, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.

Breast pain

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

Page last reviewed: 11 October 2023
Next review due: 11 October 2026

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