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Breast cancer warning sign #4: Changes in breast shape, size, or appearance

7 Early Warning Signs of Breast Cancer: Page 4

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Change-in-size

Contrary to popular belief, not all breast tumors cause a hard lump close enough to the surface to be noticeable. "Instead of feeling a lump, I noticed that one of my breasts was more oval than the other, hanging down lower and sort of sticking out to one side," says a California woman who discovered she had breast cancer at the age of 42.

How it feels: Because this change is one of appearance more than feel, your partner may notice it before you do. Or you might become aware of it as you put on your bra or look at yourself in the mirror at the gym.

What causes it: Tissue growth that's deeper in the breast or masked by dense breast tissue may push out the shape or size of the breast without causing a noticeable lump. If you've been told you have dense breast tissue, be particularly alert for this sign.

Scary stat: Mammograms miss up to 50 percent of tumors in women with dense breasts.

What to do: Study the size and shape of your breasts in a mirror. Sit facing the mirror and look at both breasts dead-on, then raise your arms, turn sideways, and look from each side. If there's a difference in size or shape you haven't noticed before, bring it to your doctor's attention.