Breast cancer occurs when cells within the breast mutate and start to grow uncontrollably. As these cells accumulate, they form a tumor, which can be felt as a lump when touching the breast, or can be seen on diagnostic imaging tests, such as an X-ray or an ultrasound. A tumor is considered malignant if the cells it contains can invade the tissues that surround it or metastasize (spread) into other parts of the body.
Cancer can begin in different areas of the breast, though the majority of cancers start in the milk ducts, which transport milk to the nipple. Cancer can also start in the glands that produce milk, as well as other areas of the breast, though they are less common. If it is caught early enough, breast cancer is highly treatable, which is why it is important for women to be aware of the signs of this disease.
1. Dimpling of the skin
Though the most obvious sign of breast cancer is the appearance of a lump (a tumor), there are several other signs that can be an indication of this disease. Changes in the appearance of the skin are one of the signs of breast cancer; particularly dimpling of the skin. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most common form of breast cancer that causes dimpled skin.
This type of cancer blocks the lymph vessels within the skin. The lymph vessels carry lymph – the fluid that transports particles and excess fluids – from various tissues in the body into the bloodstream. When the lymph vessels become blocked, they can create a dimpling effect in the skin, which creates an appearance that is similar to the skin of an orange. If the skin on your breast is dimpled, even if there aren’t any lumps present, it could be an indication of cancer.