This Is a Serious Question. What Does Breast Cancer Feel Like?

Updated on October 31, 2011
M.J. asks from Minneapolis, MN
13 answers

So I am curious, I am not making fun or being sarcastic. I am wondering with people that had it, did you feel pain in your breast before you found a lump or found the tumor? Afterwards, did you ever have pain in your breasts or was it an all over general pain? Was the pain more from the treatments or the cancer? I dont have it, I know of people that have cancer and it seems that it only truly affects them in the late stages. My mom died of complications due to Liver Cancer and she had pain all over her body not just her liver. SO I dont really know like if its localized or not. I am curious cause I have pain in my right breast but I am pretty sure its just fibrous mass thats always been there and hurts when I drink too much caffeine. I had to recently stop nursing my son and I was marking it to that, and I do keep an eye on it, I had it checked the beginning of 2011 and all was fine, but I guess its hurting more now. Just worried and interested.

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answers from St. Louis on

I had painful lumps but it was caused by excess caffeine. Cut back on my coffee, no more lumps no more pain.

I went running to my doctor freaking out, I swear I caught him laughing, I know it!!!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

I had no pain of any kind. I was in the shower. I had my granddaughter overnight and she used my scrubby thing. left it in a puddle of ooze in the floor of the shower. So instead of using that I just had bath gel in my hand. ran my hand up the side of my breast and thought hmmm that doesn't feel right. Felt it again. felt a lump the size of a hard boiled egg probably wasn't that big but felt like it. No pain. Turned out to be stage three breast cancer. I had a masectomy, 6 months of chemo and 8 weeks of daily radiation. I will be 5 years clear in march. thank you lord.

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answers from San Francisco on

I found a cancerous lump in my breast 12 years ago. I always checked myself regularly, so I knew it was different. It was larger than a pea (they can grow large before they spread) more like a peanut, and definitely had defined edges, was hard enough that it sort of slid around under my fingers. It did not hurt at all. The cancer did not spread, it was very early and small, so I can't speak to pain. But from how I understand it -- a group of cancer cells (a lump or small mass) won't hurt in the beginning, as it's growing, since it's just its own little thing. Pain comes when those cancer cells grow large enough to invade something -- into organs, tissue or bones (my father-in-law just found a massive mass in his hip due to ongoing pain, it was lung cancer that had spread and gotten everywhere).

There is one oddball strain of breast cancer that MAY be pain related, but I think it's very unusual and doesn't actually involve a mass (inflammatory breast cancer). I would assume since you had it checked and came up clear, and there has been a benign issue you've identified, that seems to be a rational answer. See if hot or cold compresses affect it any, and monitor your caffeine and see what happens. And try some gold old fashioned ibuprofin.

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answers from Nashville on

My dad, who is a pathologist, always told me that the painless lumps that have defined edges are the ones to be worried about.

My mom and I both have a lot of fibroid issues and I am always freaking out when I find one.

That said; any, ANY lump should be checked out right away.

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answers from Amarillo on

It didn't feel right and I had a "let down" feeling but I hadn't nursed in over 20 years. Made contact with OB/GYBN's office and met with specialist for a biopsy. Doctor said there were changes but could not state at that time if it was cancer or not. We would take the wait and see approach and return in six months. I had a busy schedule and did not make the appointment but about eight months later I had a soreness on top of a breast that went away and the area became hard with no feeling within two weeks. Call was put into doctor who did needle biopsy and discovered the cancer. I had the lump removed about five weeks later. The cancer was insitu and was in a duct. I had the eight week's of radiation treatment and I am still here 14 years later.

Contact your doctor and have it checked out. The life you save maybe your own. You will feel better knowing rather than not knowing. You could catch the disease before it spreads and have a great outcome. Think positive and "just do it" and have a wonderful life. You have your child to think about and your hubby and other things or dreams you want.

My best to you.

The other S.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My older sister had a bout with it about 5 years ago, and as far as I know, she had no symptoms. Found it in a mamogram exam. Continue to monitor to be safe, because I think many forms of cancer don't hurt till it's too late.

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answers from Austin on

It feels like a hard pea.
Sometimes there can be soreness, but not always.
I purchased one of the Mini Breasts so I could take it to our PTA meeting when when I was PTA President. It was during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It helps a lot to have an idea of what you are supposed to be feeling.

You can actually order a "Mini breast" this model encourages mammography and BSE by simulating two different types of breast lumps: one that can be felt and one that cannot. Mini-Breast Models are boxed individually,

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answers from Lake Charles on

Breast cancer doesn't hurt until it's really far along.. then once it starts hurting chances are you have it a couple other places too.. Normally benign tumors don't hurt either so you should probably get it checked out anyway.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Sometimes there is no pain or anything else to warn you that cancer is going on. That's why a mammogram is so good. It can find a spot smaller than a pin head. If you wait to feel something (or to feel something worse), it will have grown very much larger and much more serious by then.

The best thing to do is to check it out! If it's not cancer, you've spent money to learn that, but it's money well spent. If it is cancer, you need to know that so you can take action against it.

My breast cancer was in 1995, and it was found after two mammograms and a very sharp radiology person who said, "I don't know what that is but it doesn't look right." I had surgery to remove it (it was in situ), had some lymph nodes removed a week later (they checked out OK), and then had radiation treatments. It wasn't my idea of a pleasant spring activity, but I've been cancer-free since.

So don't worry. Find out. Call your doctor tomorrow, please.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Any lumps, should be checked out. I found a lump and went straight to my doctor freaking out. He thought it was a cyst, had a mammogram, came back abnormal(not a cyst), and am waiting for the results from the biopsy. don't take a chance is my advice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I just battled breast cancer last year. I was actually diagnosed almost 2 years ago now (wow...really?). I found a lump while I was shaving my armpit in the shower. It didn't hurt at all. My primary care doctor thought it was a cyst at first because I didn't have any family history and was 35 years old. She told me to go for a baseline mammogram to be sure though and thank God she did! Turns out, I had an agressive tumor and I actually carry the gene mutation for breast and ovarian cancer. Who knew?? Anyway, to answer your question, it didn't hurt unless I was rubbing it too much (which my doc told me not to do). Thankfully, they caught it early (Stage 1). I had a double mastectomy, which hurt more than anything I could describe, but I'm better now and have finished my chemo and reconstruction and am moving on with life. If you're concerned or if it has changed size at all, don't hesitate to go and have it checked out again. Be sure they do an ultrasound on it. If you're younger (which, if you're nursing a baby, it sounds like you are), then your breast tissue is pretty dense an a mammo may not show anything. They knew I had a lump because they could feel it and it still didn't show up on the mammogram. They had to do an ultrasound to see what it was. Better safe than sorry in these circumstances. I'm sure glad my doctor got me in for a mammogram sooner rather than later since my tumor was so agressive. Who knows what would have happened if she had blown it off. Best of luck to you. Hope everything turns out okay!



answers from Minneapolis on

My cousin just felt a small lump in the shower.... she's 44 and now getting treatment. I just read that if you have dense breast tissue that mammograms do not detect things as well. That what we women w/ this type of tissue (your Dr. can tell you if you have dense tissue or not) need sonograms.

Several woman are starting an educational movement about this b/c the ended up w/ late stage cancer ... even though they had regular mammograms... they never knew that the density of your breast tissue plays a HUGE role in detection.

I know that I know that sonogram tech schools have their techs do HOURS upon HOURS of lab work so if you can't afford a sonogram or your Dr. won't approve one.. maybe you can get one through a teaching program. Beast of luck to you.



answers from Minneapolis on

I haven't had cancer, but I had a similar pain and it was quite frequent, enough that it started to worry me because it became really sharp. My OB checked me out and thought it was just a fibrous mass, but she scheduled a mammogram just to be sure. She said caffiene as well as stress can make it worse (I have a pretty stressful job).
After a mammogram and ultrasound, I got the all clear. I'm 35 and have had 2 kids, and their response was that it is a time when your breasts change tissue.
I did feel better once I had the peace of mind knowing it was nothing, though!

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