A lump in your breast
Although not all stage 4 breast cancer includes large tumors, many women will still be able to feel or see a lump in their breast. The lump may be under the armpit or another surrounding area. Women with stage 4 breast cancer may also feel general swelling around their breast or armpit areas.
Red, swollen, or scaly skin on your breast or nipple
Some types of breast cancer may result in noticeable skin changes. Paget’s disease is a type of breast cancer that occurs in the nipple area. It is usually accompanied by tumors inside the breast. Paget’s disease may cause the skin to itch, tingle, turn red, or feel unnaturally thick. Some women also experience dry, flaky skin.
Inflammatory breast cancer may also cause skin changes. The cancer cells block lymph vessels, which causes redness, swelling, or dimpled skin.
An inward-turning nipple
Nipple discharge may also be a symptom of any stage of breast cancer. Nipple discharge is any fluid that comes from the nipple, whether colored or clear. The fluid may also be yellow and look like pus. The discharge may even look bloody.
Changes in the shape or size of your breast
A breast may look and feel normal in the early stages of cancer, but during later stages, women may experience swelling in the breast area or under the affected arm. The normal flow of fluid is blocked, and a backup of fluid is caused.
This may cause changes in the shape or size of your breast. These changes may cause discomfort and pain as cancer grows and spreads throughout the breast.
A large tumor can grow into the skin and cause painful sores or ulcers. It can also spread into the chest muscles and ribs, causing discomfort and pain.
Protecting your breastfeeding child
You may choose to wean your baby off of breastmilk prior to beginning chemotherapy. Continuing to pump during chemotherapy and throwing away the milk is also an option. By pumping, you will continue to produce milk so you can resume breastfeeding once it’s safe to do so.