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Signs & symptoms

Six months after top surgery, I found a lump under the scar. I went to get it checked out and my doctor said it felt like nothing, but we should get an ultrasound. The ultrasound came back negative, and then my doctor ordered a fine-needle biopsy. The biopsy came back with abnormal cells. Eventually, it was diagnosed as cancer. Brady

When we think of *chest cancer, we often think of a lump in the chest. And that makes sense: the most common symptom of chest cancer is a painless lump in the chest or armpit. Sometimes we find these lumps. Sometimes our partner(s) may find them.

But even healthy chests can be lumpy. And the way our chests look and feel can change over time. So, which lumps should we worry about and which ones are probably okay? It’s hard to tell. That’s why it’s important to know your body and understand what’s normal for you.

Here’s what you might want to look for:

  • The lump is present all of the time and does not get smaller or go away.
  • The lump feels like it’s attached to the skin or chest wall and can’t be moved.
  • The lump is hard, irregular in shape and feels very different from the rest of the chest tissue.
  • The lump is tender but not painful.

Remember: lumps are very common and most lumps aren’t cancerous. If you have a lump or other symptoms, you’ll need testing to find out the cause.

Other chest cancer symptoms can look like:

  • swelling, redness and increased warmth
  • itching of the chest or nipple, especially itching that isn’t relieved by medications such as creams or ointments
  • changes in chest size or shape
  • dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • changes to a nipple, such as a nipple turning inwards, a rash around the nipple, or discharge from the nipple
  • crusting, ulcers or scaling on the nipple. These may be a sign of some rare chest cancers.

Often, these symptoms aren’t caused by cancer. Visit your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

If you’re age 50 to 69 and are pre-op, don’t wait until you find a lump or have other symptoms: get screened for chest cancer by getting a mammogram every two years.

Visit for more detailed information about the signs and symptoms of chest cancer.

*A note on terminology: In the trans men sections of this website, we refer to cancer in chest tissue as cancer of the chest, and to the tissue itself as chest tissue. This is because we recognize that many trans men and people on the transmasculine spectrum do not identify as having breasts, feel ambivalent about having breasts and prefer the term “chest” on its own. Although we use this terminology where appropriate, we also recognize the fact that some trans men do have breasts.