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5 Breast Cancer Skin Changes You Shouldn't Ignore

5 Breast Cancer Skin Changes You Shouldn't Ignore
Kevin Cleary

Key Takeaways:

  • Breast cancer doesn’t always appear first in lump form.
  • Changes in breast skin can be the first symptom of breast cancer.
  • Not every breast skin abnormality means breast cancer.
  • Understanding how changes in your breast skin may be a precursor to breast cancer could potentially help you start any treatment early.
  • Any abnormality in and around the breast should be shown to your doctor and earlier the better and HPFY has everything you should need if necessary.


Every woman should be performing a self-examination in order to detect any abnormality in her breast early. As with anything, early intervention is the best way to deal with breast cancer. Basically, breast cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the breast tissue. Yes, the typical symptom of breast cancer is a lump, but noticing a skin abnormality in and around your breast may be an early indicator of breast cancer. No, not every skin change in your breast skin means you have cancer, but a healthcare professional should look at it. Also, breast cancer is not solely for women; men can experience it also. I can give you some important information about skin changes and breast cancer, and here are five breast cancer skin changes you need to recognize.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Self-examination is the easiest and one of the most effective methods for detecting abnormalities in the breast. Typically, a lump indicates breast cancer, but there are other symptoms, such as:

  • A flattened or inward-turning nipple (retraction)
  • A thickened area of skin that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • Changes in breast skin color
  • Changes in size, shape, or appearance of the breast
  • Peeling, scaling, or crusting of breast skin
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or near the collarbone

If you should experience any of these symptoms, your doctor may opt for some sophisticated tests to determine if you actually may be experiencing breast cancer. These tests may include:

  • Ultrasound of the breast
  • Diagnostic mammograms
  • MRI of the breast
  • Biopsy

5 Breast Cancer Skin Changes

Abnormal breast cell growth is what causes breast cancer, and often, changes to the skin around the breast can be the earliest indication of potential breast cancer. Lumps are what’s described the most, but changes in appearance and texture of breast skin are often not discussed as frequently. Two forms of breast cancer are more likely to show breast skin changes. They are:

  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC): This rare but aggressive cancer spreads rapidly and is typically undetected until later stages. According to an article, IBS makes up approximately 1%-5% of breast cancer cases in the US.
  • Paget’s disease of the breast: This primarily affects the nipple and areola but is another type of uncommon breast cancer. It only accounts for about 4% of breast cancer cases and commonly affects those in menopause.

Any intervention/treatment plan is always more effective when it’s started early. Five Breast Skin Changes you want to notice include:

  1. Rash

    If you develop an itchy rash that spreads along the breast, this could be a sign of both IBC and Paget’s disease of the breast. This rash can appear swollen, red, or dark, depending on your skin tone. Also, an eczema-like rash that is itchy, flaky, and crusty around the nipple could be an indication of Paget’s disease of the breast. Typically, this rash would only affect one breast.
  2. Swelling

    Breast cancer can cause the entire breast or just an area of the breast to swell. It is not necessarily a lump, but the affected breast can become larger than the other. Yes, it’s normal for women to have one breast larger than the other, but this change would be different than their normal size.
  3. Puckering

    This is similar to dimpling and changes the skin’s texture. It presents itself as an indentation and could be more prominent when your breast is in a slightly different position. Puckering could be a sign of a tumor forming under the skin, and the ligaments inside your breasts are pulling the breast skin inward.
  4. Dimpling Breast

    Dimpling of breast skin can be a sign of IBC, an aggressive cancer. Cancer cells can build up in lymph fluid in the breast, causing swelling. This swelling can cause dimpling in the skin. Doctors referred to this as “peau d’orange” due to dimpled skin resembling the surface of an orange.
  5. Discoloration

    IBC or Paget’s disease of the breast could cause your breast skin to change color. Depending on your skin tone, your skin could darken or turn red. You have had a trauma that could cause a bruise in your breast area; this could also be a reason for this discoloration, so be aware of this.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you experience a lump or a change in the skin of your breast, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor or healthcare physician. Be sure to get your next scheduled mammogram since early treatment is your best course of action. Even if your last mammogram showed no issues, be sure to report any changes.


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HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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