Are red spots on the breast a sign of breast cancer?
Red spots on the breast could be caused by other skin conditions or rash, they can also be a sign of breast cancer.
The ability to recognize and diagnose the signs of breast cancer can increase the chances of survival. Red spots on the breast are usually symptoms of a noncancerous condition, though they can sometimes be an early sign of breast cancer.
Red spots on the breasts could also be a typical feature of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), – a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer. IBC affects the skin and the lymph vessels of the breast.
Symptoms of IBC can include:
- breast pain
- breast swelling
- rapid changes in the skin around the affected breast
- redness and warmth of the skin on the breast
- thickening of the breast skin
- enlargement of the affected breast
- breast skin that feels and appears thick and pitted, similar to an orange peel
Red spots on the breast can also be a sign of another rare type of breast cancer known as Paget’s disease of the breast.
Paget’s disease of the breast accounts for around 1–4 percent of all cases of breast cancer according to the National Cancer Institute. Paget’s disease of the breast usually begins by affecting the skin of the nipple. It then spreads to the dark skin around the nipple called the areola. Typically, Paget´s disease affects only one nipple, and it can resemble other noncancerous skin conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis.
Common symptoms that affect the nipple and areola are:
- color changes
- pain or itching
- very dry skin
- scaly, red, thickened and crusted skin
- noticeable mass in the breast
- yellowish fluid or blood oozing from the nipple
- deformation of the nipple
Other possible causes of red spots on the breasts
Mastitis is more common in women who are breastfeeding. It is a painful inflammation of the breast and results from milk becoming trapped in the breast and a bacterial infection in the area.
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The affected area may become red, tender, and warm. A more severe symptoms can include breast abscess, fever, and a serious blood infection known as septicemia.
A breast abscess is an accumulation of pus in the breast that results from a bacterial infection. The bacteria get inside the breast through the nipple. Breast abscesses can be painful and mostly affects women who are breastfeeding. Abscesses can be treated with antibiotics or drainage.
Mammary duct ectasia
This is a noncancerous condition that affects the milk ducts in the breast. The ducts become broader, and their walls become thicker, which can lead to an obstruction and accumulation of fluid. Mammary duct ectasia typically occurs in menopausal women, although it can also occur in younger women. It causes bloody nipple discharge and redness or tenderness of the nipple and areola.
Other rashes that can affect the breast
Other types of rash can also affect the breast. These include:
- Psoriasis: is an inflammatory and chronic skin condition that causes reddish patches of skin covered with scales.
- Candidiasis: This is a fungal infection that occurs under the breasts and skin folds.
- Scabies: is an itchy skin condition that occurs when small mites burrow into the skin. Scabies is highly contagious.
- Atopic dermatitis: Atopic dermatitis or eczema causes inflammation of the skin that causes redness, itching, and may cause the skin to scale, and crust over.
- Cellulitis: This is a serious skin condition that occurs when bacteria enter the skin through a break or crack and causes redness, pain, and swelling, in the affected are
- Hives: or urticaria, is an allergic reaction to certain foods, medications, or other substances. It causes red, raised, and itchy skin rashes.
- Shingles: is a nerve infection that causes a painful red rash along a nerve that can occur anywhere on the body, including on or near the breast area.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This is a common inflammatory skin condition that mainly affects the scalp and causes red and scaly patches to occur. These patches can also appear on the breasts and other parts of the body.
When to see a doctor
Red spots or rashes on the breast is usually not a cause for concern but can sometimes be a sign of a more severe condition. If rashes on the breasts occurs along with the symptoms below, ensure you see the doctor.
- severe pain
- wounds that refuses to heal
- changes in the breast skin
- new spots or rashes on the breast
- swelling, warmth, and redness of the breast
- fluid leaking from the rash
- red streaks coming from the rash