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Breast Cancer And Arm Pain

The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca

Swelling of arm post breast surgery

At each of our CTCA Breast Cancer Centers, located in our hospitals in Atlanta, Chicago and Phoenix, our cancer care experts are devoted to a single mission: treating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision.

Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and may also include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic/reconstructive surgeon. Our pathologists and oncologists are experienced and trained in tools designed to diagnose, stage and treat the many types of breast cancer, from early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ to complex diseases such as triple-negative breast cancer and IBC. Genetic counseling and genetic testing are also available for qualifying patients.

Our patient-centered care model is designed to help you keep strong during treatment. Your multidisciplinary care team may recommend various evidence-informed supportive care services, including:

Upper Extremity Dysfunction In Cancer Survivors

  • Upper extremity impairments affect a great number of cancer survivors. Early recognition and involvement from a rehabilitation team may result in better outcomes.
  • Proper diagnosis of upper extremity dysfunction is essential for successful treatment and for patients understanding of the etiology of dysfunction to prevent further complications.
  • Physiatric consultation should be considered in complex cases and in all cases in which physical or occupational therapy alone is insufficient.

Rarely, extension of cancer to the axilla or a larger field of radiation may result in brachial plexopathy. Depending on the case, brachial plexopathy could present as severe pain and/or diffused weakness of the arm it tends to occur years after radiation and is becoming increasingly uncommon.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Shoulder/Arm Problems

Physiatrists have a vast knowledge of neuromusculoskeletal conditions and should aid in both the diagnosis and treatment of upper extremity dysfunction. Education about symptom management and simple exercises before initiation of treatments is an effective and simple way to prevent upper extremity dysfunction. It is believed that a supervised program consisting of stretching and strengthening exercises can reduce pain and improve shoulder range of motion and function.

Sean Smith, MD

How Long Does Radiation Last After Breast Surgery

Many people will have radiation therapy within weeks of surgery. It may be internal radiation or external radiation. Internal therapy is targeted treatment designed to spare normal, healthy tissue. External radiation is usually given over the whole breast area in daily doses over a period of weeks .

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Nerve Pain After Mastectomy Or Lumpectomy

In about 25-45 percent of women, the nerves in the surrounding tissues are injured during breast surgery . The more extensive the surgery , the higher the chance of injury tends to be.

This nerve damage can lead to a persistent burning or shooting pain in the area of the surgical scar and/or the underarm area on the affected side. This may be called post-mastectomy pain syndrome. However, women who have lumpectomy can also get this syndrome.

Women who have a port-a-cath or a Hickman catheter inserted for chemotherapy may develop a similar pain around the insertion site.

Treating surgery-related nerve pain

Blocking the nerves with a local anesthetic injection can ease nerve pain after breast surgery.

A lidocaine patch placed over the area can also ease nerve pain. The patch can stay in place for 12-24 hours each day. This is usually enough time to control the pain. Place the patch in the daytime if putting clothes on over the area is difficult. Place it in the evening if the pain keeps you up at night.

Some non-opioid pain medications, such as gabapentin and pregabalin , are specific for nerve pain. If the lidocaine patch doesnt relieve your pain, ask your health care provider whether either of these drugs might help. They are more likely than opioids to relieve this type of pain.

Let your health care provider know if you have burning or stabbing pain or skin sensitivity that lasts for more than a month after surgery.

Later Signs Of Breast Cancer

Is Shoulder Pain A Sign Of Breast Cancer : Secondary Breast Cancer In ...

Later signs of breast cancer include:

  • retraction, or inward turning of the nipple
  • enlargement of one breast
  • enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
  • visible veins on the breast

Having one or more of these symptoms doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Nipple discharge, for example, can also be caused by an infection. See a doctor for a complete evaluation if you experience any of these signs and symptoms.

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Does Breast Pain Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Though itâs uncommon, there are some painful breast conditions which may raise your risk. Both radial scars and multiple or complex fibroadenomas increase your risk of breast cancer Many breast conditions which cause pain confer only a minimally increased risk of breast cancer, such as ductal ectasia, fat necrosis, a breast abscess, simple fibroadenomas, and others.

About Breast And Armpit Pain

There are many different causes of breast pain. Sometimes, pain may also occur around the armpit.

Its important to point out that this type of pain doesnt just affect women. Breast and armpit pain can affect people of all genders.

That said, people assigned female at birth can experience two different types of breast pain. These are cyclic and noncyclic breast pain.

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What Does Shoulder Blade Pain Feel Like When Its Related To Breast Cancer

The type of pain you feel usually depends on whats causing it. Some people have shoulder pain due to nerve damage from radiation therapy or a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or lymph node removal.

If you have neuropathic pain, you may feel a shooting or burning sensation. Some people describe the discomfort as an intense tingling or itching feeling.

You might also experience sharp pain when you try to move your arms up or down. This pain can be accompanied by swelling, stiffness, or numbness.

If your pain is caused by cancer that has spread , it might feel like a deep, dull ache in your joints or bones. Pain near your right shoulder blade could mean that your liver is involved.

You may also feel depressed or anxious, and your sleep may be disrupted as a result of your pain. Not getting enough sleep may make your pain feel even worse.

Your shoulder is a complex, interconnected group of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. These structures work together to align your posture and help you move your arms.

Your scapula serves several important functions:

  • It cups the ball-shaped end of the humerus bone in your upper arm.
  • It serves as an attachment plate for several muscles and ligaments.
  • It moves in several directions as you use your arms, providing stability and flexibility.

Other treatments damage the nerves around your shoulder blade, causing long-lasting pain in your shoulders, arms, hands, and feet.

Are You Having Breast Cancer Pain

I Have A Lump In My Armpit. Is This Breast Cancer?

Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Breast pain can be stressful and concerning, especially if you are not sure what is causing it. Breast pain occurs for most people at one point or another. Knowing more about it and when it may signal something serious can help you take an active role in your healthcare.

This article will explain times when breast cancer is painful, what it may be indicating, and whether you are at higher risk for breast disease.

Read Also: When Does Breast Cancer Occur

Ask Your Doctor About Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies such as massage may be helpful for some women. Some hospitals offer massage on the NHS. It is very important to talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse before starting complementary therapies. They can talk to you about any possible harmful impacts they could have on your cancer treatment, and about any possible side effects.

What Is A Normal Breast

As you might suspect, theres really no such thing as a normal breast. Everyones breasts are different. So, when we talk about normal, we mean normal for you. Its about how your breasts usually look and feel and what it could mean when this changes.

Its worth noting that its common to experience breast changes during ovulation. This may have to do with extra fluid retention, which can cause:

These symptoms should resolve after you start your period.

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Can A Breast Tumor Cause Armpit And Armpit Pain

When women experience pain in armpit and breast, their main worry is often if it is cancer. Yes, it could breast cancer or any other cause. Whenever you experience, breast pain, it can spread to the underarm and down your arm to the shoulder blade. Therefore, breast pain is closely associated with armpit pain.

Treating Chest Wall Pain

Pin on Breast Cancer

Treatment for chest wall pain will depend on whats causing it.

If its found that your breast pain is caused by a pulled muscle in your chest, this is likely to improve over time and can be treated with pain relief.

Chest wall pain can also affect the area under the arm and towards the front of the chest, and this may be due to:

  • costochondritis inflammation of parts of the ribs
  • Tietzes syndrome inflammation of the costal cartilages and swelling

Your GP or specialist may be able to tell that the costal cartilages are painful if pressure is put on them. Sometimes this inflammation can feel similar to heart pain. You may feel tightness in the chest and a severe, sharp pain. The pain may also spread down the arm and can be worse when you move.

You may find it helpful to rest and avoid sudden movements that increase the pain. Pain relief such as paracetamol or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen may help.

Your specialist may suggest injecting the painful area with a local anaesthetic and steroid.

Smoking can make the inflammation worse, so you may find that your pain lessens if you cut down or stop altogether.

The NHS website has more information about costochondritis and Tietzes syndrome.

Pain caused by other medical conditions, such as angina or gallstones, may be felt in the breast. Your GP or specialist will advise you on the most appropriate treatment.

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Recovery From Radiation Therapy

You cant see radiation-induced fibrosis, but you can feel it when you move your arm and find that your motion is restricted.

Radiation-induced fibrosis can cause pain, tightness, and altered sensation, even months or years after your radiation treatments end. Doctors will often recommend a combination of therapeutic approaches to improve strength and mobility.

Breast Cancer Types And Symptoms

There are several kinds of breast cancer. Many of them share symptoms.

Symptoms of ductal carcinoma

This is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in your ducts. About 1 in 5 new breast cancers are ductal carcinoma in situ . This means you have cancer in the cells that line your ducts, but it hasnât spread into nearby tissue.

You may not notice any symptoms of ductal carcinoma. It can also cause a breast lump or bloody discharge.

Symptoms of lobular carcinoma

This kind begins in the glands that make milk, called lobules. Itâs the second most common type of breast cancer. Symptoms include:

  • Fullness, thickening, or swelling in one area
  • Nipples that are flat or point inward

Symptoms of invasive breast cancer

Breast cancer thatâs spread from where it began into the tissues around it is called invasive or infiltrating. You may notice:

  • A lump in your breast or armpit. You might not be able to move it separately from your skin or move it at all.
  • One breast that looks different from the other
  • A rash or skin thatâs thick, red, or dimpled like an orange
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Muscle weakness

Symptoms of triple-negative breast cancer

Breast cancer is called triple-negative if it doesnât have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone and doesnât make a lot of a protein called HER2. This kind tends to grow and spread faster than other types, and doctors treat it differently.

Symptoms of male breast cancer

Learn more about breast cancer in men.

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What Is The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is kind of a second circulatory system. Just like your heart uses blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients around your body, your immune system uses the lymphatic system to deliver protective immune materials.

The lymphatic system uses:

  • Nodes that filter lymph fluid and identify infectious agents

The lymphatic system also helps create important disease-fighting cells.

What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Arm physiotherapy exercises for lymphedema after mastectomy/ BCS for breast cancer – Dr. Rohan

The American Cancer Society mentions that while the most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump, other possible symptoms include skin irritation and dimpling, as well as redness, scaliness or thickening of the breast skin. 1. Its common for breasts to be sore and sensitive during menstruation,

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Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Bones

You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread to the bones:

  • an ache or pain in the affected bone
  • breaks in the bones because they are weaker
  • breathlessness, looking pale, bruising and bleeding due to low levels of blood cells – blood cells are made in the bone marrow and can be crowded out by the cancer cells

Sometimes when bones are damaged by advanced cancer, the bones release calcium into the blood. This is called hypercalcaemia and can cause various symptoms such as:

Symptoms Of Regional Recurrence

Symptoms of a regional recurrence may include:

  • lumps in your lymph nodes under the arm or near the collarbone
  • pain or loss of sensation in your arm or shoulder
  • swelling in your arm on the same side as the original breast cancer

If youve had a mastectomy or other surgery related to breast cancer, you might get lumps or bumps caused by scar tissue in the reconstructed breast. This isnt cancer, but you should let your doctor know about them so they can be monitored.

As with any cancer, early detection and treatment are major factors in determining the outcome. Breast cancer is easily treated and usually curable when detected in the earliest stages.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, according to the World Health Organization . Whether youre concerned about breast pain or tenderness, its important to stay informed on risk factors and warning signs of breast cancer.

The best way to fight breast cancer is early detection. Talk with your doctor about when you should start breast cancer screening.

If youre worried that your breast pain or tenderness could be something serious, make an appointment with your doctor today. If you find a lump in your breast see your doctor.

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What Causes Breast Pain

There are a number of harmless causes for breast pain and tenderness that may primarily be related to changes in hormone levels. These can include:

  • Puberty in girls and sometimes for boys, too
  • Menstruation and premenstrual syndrome
  • Pregnancy more often during the first trimester
  • Days following childbirth as milk comes in Breastfeeding Mastitis, which is caused by a milk duct that is not properly draining and becomes infected, should be treated. It has no correlation with cancer, but it can become a serious infection if left untreated.

Questions To Ask Your Health Care Provider About Your Pain

Pin on Lymphedema
  • What can be done to relieve my pain?
  • What can we do if the pain medications dont work?
  • What are the side effects of the pain medications? What can be done to prevent or manage these side effects?
  • What side effects should I report to you?
  • What other options do I have for pain control?

*Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date.

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What Happens If Lymphedema Goes Untreated

If lymphedema isn’t well managed, it can lead to complications that shorten your life expectancy.


The most serious one is a rare and deadly type of cancer called lymphangiosarcoma. It results from prolonged, poorly managed lymphedema.

Lymphangiosarcoma symptoms include:

  • Purple discoloration of the skin
  • Tender nodule in the skin of the arm
  • Nodule that progresses to an open, crusty sore and eventually causes tissue death

The five-year survival rate for someone with lymphangiosarcoma is about 5%.


Cellulitis is a skin infection. Trapped fluids are an ideal place for germs to flourish, so it’s common in lymphedema.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Skin that’s warm to the touch

Cellulitis is typically treated with antibiotics, wound care, rest, and elevation.

is a blood infection. It can result from untreated cellulitis. Sepsis is potentially fatal and is always a medical emergency.

Symptoms of sepsis include:

Get immediate medical attention if you develop these symptoms.

How Breast Cancer Pain May Feel

While many types of breast pain are not cancerous, pain in only one breast may be cause for calling your doctor. Benign breast pain is often on both sides.

Breast cancer pain can be persistent and very specific, usually hurting in just one spot. It is important to remember that breast cancer can be present in your breast before it causes pain. If you have other symptoms of breast cancer, such as nipple retraction , sudden swelling of your breast, or sudden skin changes, consult your healthcare provider for a clinical breast exam.

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