What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer
There are several different types of breast cancer, including:
Can cancer form in other parts of the breast?
When we say breast cancer, we usually mean cancers that form in milk ducts or lobules. Cancers can also form in other parts of your breast, but these types of cancer are less common. These can include:
- Angiosarcoma. This rare type of cancer begins in the cells that make up the lining of blood or lymph vessels.
- Phyllodes tumors. Starting in the connective tissue, phyllodes tumors are rare. Theyre usually benign , but they can be malignant in some cases.
Are There Complications Of Breast Cancer
Possible complications from breast cancer treatment include:
- Lymphoedema in some cases, removing your lymph nodes may cause swelling, discomfort and pain in the arm, shoulder and upper body.
- Early menopause certain treatments, especially chemotherapy and hormone therapy, can cause menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes, joint pain, or a change in sex drive, to occur earlier than usual.
- Anxiety and depression research shows that anxiety and depression are common among women with breast cancer. One study found that up to 50 per cent of women with early breast cancer may experience anxiety and/or depression in the year after diagnosis.
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men
Possible symptoms of breast cancer to watch for include:
- A lump or swelling, which is often painless
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge from the nipple
Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.
These changes aren’t always caused by cancer, but if you notice any breast changes, you should see a health care professional as soon as possible.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Burstein HJ, Harris JR, Morrow M. Ch. 79 – Malignant tumors of the breast. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’sCancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015.
Morrow M. Chapter 3: Physical Exam of the Breast. In: Harris JR, Lippman ME, Morrow M, Osborne CK, eds. Diseases of the Breast. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health 2014.
Wolff AC, Domchek SM, Davidson NE et al. Ch 91 – Cancer of the Breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloffs Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier: 2014.
Last Revised: April 27, 2018
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You Cant Face The Stream In The Shower
Does wearing a bra suddenly irritate your nipples? Are your breasts so painful that you have to face away from the stream of water in the shower? Have your breasts become so sensitive that you dont like your partner to touch them anymore? Breasts or nipples that become more sensitive than normal can be a sign of cancer, Dr. Ross says.
Breast sensitivity is often tied to hormone changes, which is why many women experience breast tenderness as part of PMS and its one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. However, some types of breast cancer can affect your hormones, giving you a similar feeling, she explains.
So if your breasts are suddenly way more sensitive than normal and its not around that time of the month and youre not pregnant, give your doctor a call, she says.
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.
Most breast lumps aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor. You should also speak to your GP if you notice any of the following:
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- discharge from either of your nipples
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- a rash on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
Breast pain alone isn’t a symptom of breast cancer.
Learn more about the symptoms of breast cancer
After examining your breasts, your GP may refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This might include a mammography or a biopsy.
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Superior Vena Cava Syndrome
The superior vena cava is a large vein that carries blood from the head and arms down to the heart. It passes next to the upper part of the right lung and the lymph nodes inside the chest. Tumors in this area can press on the SVC, which can cause the blood to back up in the veins. This can lead to swelling in the face, neck, arms, and upper chest . It can also cause headaches, dizziness, and a change in consciousness if it affects the brain. While SVC syndrome can develop gradually over time, in some cases it can become life-threatening, and needs to be treated right away.
When To Contact A Doctor
People should not panic or be fearful when they notice breast changes. Aging, changes in hormone levels, and other factors can lead to breast changes throughout a persons lifetime.
However, people should be proactive about their health and visit a doctor to determine the cause of any breast symptoms.
Each of the nine changes listed above can warrant a trip to the doctor, especially if these changes do not seem to relate to one of the following:
- the menstrual cycle
- previous illness, such as a breast infection
A doctor can evaluate the symptoms, examine the affected breast or breasts, and recommend further studies if necessary. They may suggest a mammogram, ultrasound, other imaging tests, or bloodwork to rule out infection or other potential causes.
There are a number of other reasons a person may experience breast pain, which include:
- bras that do not fit correctly
- hormonal changes
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What Is Male Breast Cancer
Breast cancer in men is very rare, with less than 1 percent of all breast cancers found in men. The risk increases for older men and those with high estrogen levels, low male-hormone levels or a family history of breast cancer. Increased risk is also associated with those who have been exposed to radiation, heavy drinkers, and those with liver disease or who are obese. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and drugs that target genetic changes in cells that cause cancer.
What Kind Of Food Causes Breast Cancer
Research shows that a diet high in fried foods may significantly increase your risk of breast cancer. Indeed, in a study in 620 Iranian women, fried food intake was the largest risk factor for breast cancer development . Processed meats. Processed meats like bacon and sausage may raise your risk of breast cancer.
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You Notice Dimply Scaly Patchy Or Inflamed Skin
You know your boobs and all their little quirks so if you notice any changes to their normal appearance, pay attention, says Debra Patt, MD, OB-GYN, and breast cancer expert with Texas Oncology, a practice in the US Oncology Network.
“Any unusual thickening, redness, rash, dimpling, or puckering of your breast skin, or around the nipple, should be checked out by your doctor,” she explains.
Breast Lumps Or Lumpiness
Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.
Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then its likely normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition, such as a cyst or fibroadenoma.
See a health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something thats different from what you felt before
If youve had a benign lump in the past, dont assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but its best to make sure.
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Myth #: Physicians Can Diagnose Breast Cancer During An Exam
Fact: Neither you nor your physician can tell just by feeling if a lump is cancerous. A mammogram and an ultrasound can give you more information. If needed, a biopsy can be done on a suspicious lump and then evaluated under a microscope.
It is always better to check on a symptom rather than letting it wait until your annual mammogram. If something doesnt feel or look right, call Associates in Womens Health at 697-7200 immediately for an evaluation in Omaha, NE.
Be Aware Of Your Breasts To Detect Breast Cancer Symptoms Early
Studies show that regular breast self-exams are not the best way to detect breast cancer early.
What does work? Being aware of how your breasts look and feel and seeing a doctor as soon as you notice changes or abnormalities.
The vast majority of breast cancers are found during daily activities like showering, applying deodorant or even scratching, says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center.
Bevers advises women to see a doctor if they have one or more symptoms of breast cancer, no matter how mild they may seem.
You dont need to wait for any particular size or severity of symptoms to get checked out, she says. “The earlier that breast cancer is detected, the better our chances of treating it successfully.”
And you shouldnt ignore symptoms just because you breasts don’t hurt. Pain is rarely a symptom of breast cancer, she says.
The vast majority of breast cancers are found during daily activitieslike showering, applying deodorant or even scratching.
Therese Bevers, M.D.
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Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer
To determine if your symptoms are caused by breast cancer or a benign breast condition, your doctor will do a thorough physical exam in addition to a breast exam. They may also request one or more diagnostic tests to help understand whats causing your symptoms.
Tests that can help your doctor diagnose breast cancer include:
- Mammogram. The most common way to see below the surface of your breast is with an imaging test called a mammogram. Many women ages 40 and older get annual mammograms to check for breast cancer. If your doctor suspects you may have a tumor or suspicious spot, they will also request a mammogram. If an atypical area is seen on your mammogram, your doctor may request additional tests.
- Ultrasound. A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the tissues deep in your breast. An ultrasound can help your doctor distinguish between a solid mass, such as a tumor, and a benign cyst.
Your doctor may also suggest tests such as an MRI or a breast biopsy.
If you dont already have a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Peeling Scaling Or Flaking Skin
Dont immediately be alarmed if you notice peeling, scaling, or flaking on your breasts or the skin around your nipples. This is a symptom of breast cancer, but it can also be a symptom of atopic dermatitis, eczema, or another skin condition.
After an exam, your doctor may run tests to rule out Pagets disease, which is a type of breast cancer affecting the nipples. It can also cause these symptoms.
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Who Provides Breast Cancer Treatment
A medical team may involve several different health professionals. It may include a GP, a radiologist, an oncologist, a breast care nurse, a surgeon and other allied health professionals such as counsellors and therapists. Having a multi-disciplinary team means a patient can receive the best care possible.
When Should I See My Doctor
See your doctor or healthcare professional if you notice symptoms of possible breast cancer, such as a lump, pain, itch, nipple discharge or dimpling, or if you have any concerns about your breast cancer risk.
Your doctor or healthcare professional will assess you and work out if you need further tests. If required, they can refer you to a local service and provide necessary follow-up care.
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Stage Of Breast Cancer
When your breast cancer is diagnosed, the doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer:
- stage 1 the tumour measures less than 2cm, the lymph nodes in the armpit aren’t affected, and there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 2 the tumour measures 2 to 5cm or the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both, and there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 3 the tumour measures 2 to 5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues, the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected but there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 4 the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
This is a simplified guide. Each stage is divided into further categories: A, B and C. If you’re not sure what stage you have, ask your doctor.
Or Your Nipples Are Leaking
Is there anything more alarming than having your breasts start squirting liquid when there’s no baby involved? “Its normal to have some leakage during pregnancy while breastfeeding, and up to a year after weaning your baby, but if you notice any discharge any other time it needs to be evaluated by a doctor,” says Dr. Patt.
Random dischargeespecially if it’s red or green or has an odormight mean you have a problem, including cancer of the breast or the pituitary gland, Dr. Patt explains.
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Talking To Your Healthcare Provider
It is crucial that you talk to your oncologist and healthcare team about any and all symptoms you are experiencing. Some of these symptoms, such as pain, are under-treated in people with metastatic cancer. This is not because healthcare providers fail to treat the symptoms, but because they are simply unaware that a person is coping with them.
Breast Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
With all of the talk about people with cancer being brave or strong, you might hesitate to share symptoms that could make you appear frightened or weak. Yet facing metastatic cancer is frightening, and being able to share your concerns is a sign of strength, not weakness. There is a lot that can be done to ease most of the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, but the only way that your oncologist can know what you are feeling is if you are brave enough to speak up.
In addition, sharing your symptoms, even if they may seem of little consequence to you, may help your oncologist better recognize the extent of your disease, anticipate potential complications, and suggest the best possible treatments for your disease.
What Are The Common Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The following early signs and symptoms of breast cancer can happen with other conditions that are not cancer related.
- New lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
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Breast Cancer: Symptoms And Signs
Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.
ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.
Many people with breast cancer do not have any body changes or symptoms when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like by taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem.
However, some people do have symptoms or signs when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer. If a person develops one or more of the following symptoms or signs, they should discuss them with a doctor. Many times, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not cancer.
If you are concerned about any changes you experience, including those listed above as well as other concerning changes that are not, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom, in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.
The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.