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Breast Cancer On The Skin

Symptoms Of Paget Disease Of The Breast

No Lump, No Tumor: The Breast Cancer Disguised as a Skin Rash

The symptoms of Paget disease of the breast are similar to those of some non-cancerous conditions, such as dermatitis or eczema, and include:

  • itching, tingling, or redness in the nipple or areola area

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    flaking, crusty, or thickened skin on or around the nipple

  • yellowish or bloody nipple discharge

Outlook For Squamous Cell Breast Carcinoma

Generally speaking, squamous cell breast carcinoma has an aggressive clinical course, with an outcome about the same as that of poorly differentiated breast adenocarcinoma. However, squamous cell breast cancers do typically show a reduced tendency for lymphatic spread when compared to breast adenocarcinomas. Statistically, about 10%-30% show lymphatic involvement at the time of surgery, and about 30% of patients will develop a distant metastasis.

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When Is It Given

Electrochemotherapy may be used to treat skin metastases when other treatments havent worked or when surgery isnt suitable. It will be planned by your treatment team on an individual basis.

It can also be given alongside other treatments or to skin which has previously been treated with radiotherapy.

Electrochemotherapy may not be suitable for some people with certain lung conditions.

You will need a number of tests to ensure it is safe to give you electrochemotherapy. These may include blood tests, a chest x-ray, a CT scan of the chest and lung function tests.

You may be asked to have medical photographs taken of the skin metastases and the area that requires treatment before it begins, and once its completed. This can help to monitor the affected areas and assess the effectiveness of the treatment.

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Risk Factors And Causes Of Skin Cancer

Despite the fact that high melanin content confers better photo protection, significant photo damage in the form of epidermal atypia and atrophy, dermal collagen and elastin damage and pigmentary disorders can cause skin cancer which could be fatal due to delay in detection in skin of color . Skin cancer is skin growth with varying degrees of malignancy . It is not yet very clear why skin cancer incidence has grown so dramatically over the past decades but the reason is likely to be multi factorial which includes increased UV exposure, environmental, hereditary risk factors and improved surveillance and earlier recognition . In addition, genetic polymorphisms also modulate the susceptibility to skin cancer .

Organ transplant receivers especially kidney and HIV patients have an increased frequency of skin cancers . Some treatments, including radiation therapy, phototherapy, psoralen and long-wave ultraviolet radiation can also predispose to skin malignancies . Viral infections such as the human papilloma virus can cause cancer. Patients with familial genetic patterns are vulnerable to particular types of skin cancers . Certain drugs, from common antibiotics to heart medications, can increase the skins sensitivity to sunlight, causing the skin to burn in less time and may increase the incidence of skin cancer .

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Breast Cancer: Why Me

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The most obvious risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman. Men get the disease, too, but itâs about 100 times more common in women. Other things that make it more likely include being over age 55 or having a close relative who had the disease. Still, up to 80% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the illness.

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When Should I Call My Doctor If I Am Concerned About Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any changes to your breast, even if you dont feel a lump. With further testing, your provider can determine whether IBC may be a concern.

Contact your provider if youre taking antibiotics for a breast infection especially if you have the symptoms of IBC and your symptoms dont improve within a week.

How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Different From Other Types Of Breast Cancer

When compared to other forms of the disease, inflammatory breast cancer:

  • Looks different — often there are no lumps, but your breast might appear red, swollen, or inflamed
  • Is harder to diagnose — it doesnât show up well on a mammogram
  • Is more aggressive and spreads more quickly than other types
  • Tends to be diagnosed at a younger age, especially among African-American women
  • Is more likely to affect overweight women
  • Is often further along when itâs diagnosed
  • Sometimes has spread past the breast when itâs diagnosed, which makes it harder to treat

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Signs And Symptoms Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer causes a number of signs and symptoms, most of which develop quickly , including:

  • Swelling of the skin of the breast
  • Redness involving more than one-third of the breast
  • Pitting or thickening of the skin of the breast so that it may look and feel like an orange peel
  • A retracted or inverted nipple
  • One breast looking larger than the other because of swelling
  • One breast feeling warmer and heavier than the other
  • A breast that may be tender, painful or itchy
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes under the arms or near the collarbone

If you have any of these symptoms, it does not mean that you have IBC, but you should see a doctor right away. Tenderness, redness, warmth, and itching are also common symptoms of a breast infection or inflammation, such as mastitis if youre pregnant or breastfeeding. Because these problems are much more common than IBC, your doctor might suspect infection at first as a cause and treat you with antibiotics.

Treatment with antibiotics may be a good first step, but if your symptoms dont get better in 7 to 10 days, more tests need to be done to look for cancer. Let your doctor know if it doesn’t help, especially if the symptoms get worse or the affected area gets larger. The possibility of IBC should be considered more strongly if you have these symptoms and are not pregnant or breastfeeding, or have been through menopause. Ask to see a specialist if youre concerned.

How Does It Work

Skin can show early signs of breast cancer

Electrical impulses change the outer layer of the cancer cells in the treated area causing gaps, called pores, to open up on the cells surface for a short time. This allows the chemotherapy drug to enter the cancer cells more easily. Once the pores close, the chemotherapy is sealed inside the cells.

The dose of chemotherapy drug is much lower than when its given to treat the whole body.

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Survivorship Care After Paget Disease Of The Breast Treatment

Because of treatments theyve received, many breast cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing other diseases as they age, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis. To make sure breast cancer survivors are regularly screened for these and other diseases, experts have developed the idea of survivorship care planning.

Survivorship care plans are written documents made up of two parts.

The first part is a treatment summary, a record of all the breast cancer treatments youve received.

The second part is basically a roadmap of what you can expect in the years after treatment, including any late or long-term side effects you might have, and a schedule of how youll be monitored for these side effects and other health conditions. This part of the survivorship care plan usually includes:

What Should I Do If I Experience Signs Of Breast Cancer

If you experience any signs of breast cancer, let your primary care doctor know. If you dont have a doctor, schedule an appointment with a health care provider in your local area. An examination and diagnostic testing will be performed to find out whether the symptoms are due to cancer or another condition. Remember there is also a chance that what youre experiencing is not a sign of a serious medical problem, so you shouldnt let fear or anxiety prevent you from seeking care.

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What To Do If You Spot A Possible Sign Of Breast Cancer

Dont panic. If you notice a change in your breast, it doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Some of these changes may be a result of benign, or non-cancerous, breast conditions, explains Dr. Duncan.

Still, if you notice any change at all, especially one occurring in only one breast, its a good idea to contact your doctor to get treatment started right away, if necessary.

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Lobular Carcinoma In Situ Symptoms

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Lobular carcinoma in situ does not cause symptoms and cannot be seen with a mammogram. This condition is usually found when a doctor is doing a breast biopsy for another reason, such as to investigate an unrelated breast lump. If a person has LCIS, the breast cells will appear abnormal under a microscope.

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Skin Rash On The Breasts

You may not associate breast cancer with redness or a skin rash, but in the case of inflammatory breast cancer , a rash is an early symptom. This is an aggressive form of breast cancer that affects the skin and lymph vessels of the breast.

Unlike other types of breast cancer, IBC doesnt usually cause lumps. However, your breasts may become swollen, warm, and appear red. The rash may resemble clusters of insect bites, and its not unusual to have itchiness.

Support For Living With Secondary Breast Cancer

Everyones experience of being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer is different. For many people, uncertainty can be the hardest part of living with secondary breast cancer.

You may find it helpful to talk to someone else whos had a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

Chat to other people living with secondary breast cancer on our online Forum.

Meet other people with a secondary diagnosis and get information and support at a Living with Secondary Breast Cancer group.

You can also call Breast Cancer Nows Helpline free on 0808 800 6000.

Image credit: graphic adapted from: Sersa et al.Electrochemotherapy in treatment of tumours. European Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2008. 34: 232240. Adapted by permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

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Here’s When To Call Your Doctor About A Rash

“We are not sure why Paget’s disease occurs and why the rash appears,” says Beckley. “The breast cancer that is often found along with Paget’s disease is ductal in natureductal carcinoma in situ or invasive ductal carcinomaand one thought is that the cancer cells travel within the milk ducts to the nipple and surrounding areola which cause the rash,” she explains. With IBC, Beckley notes that “the cancer is growing quite quickly, and spreads to the lymph system within the breast as well as the skin, which is what causes the rash.”

Beckley recommends that women seek medical advice when they notice any change in their breasts, including skin rashes or lumps. “If you are seen for a skin rash on the breast and it does not improve and resolve with treatment, let your medical team know,” she says. “Changes to the nipples or breast painas well as any new or worsening rashesare all symptoms that women should take seriously and check out with their doctors.”

Changes In The Size And Shape Of The Breast

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Its not uncommon for breasts to swell, and you may notice a change in size around the time of your menstrual cycle.

Swelling can also cause breast tenderness, and it may be slightly uncomfortable to wear a bra or lie down on your stomach. This is perfectly normal and rarely indicative of breast cancer.

But while your breasts may undergo certain changes at different times of the month, you shouldnt overlook some changes. If you notice your breasts swelling at times other than your menstrual cycle, or if only one breast is swollen, talk to your doctor.

In cases of normal swelling, both breasts remain symmetrical. That means one wont suddenly be larger or more swollen than the other.

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What Happens After The Local Breast Cancer Treatment

Following local breast cancer treatment, the treatment team will determine the likelihood that the cancer will recur outside the breast. This team usually includes a medical oncologist, a specialist trained in using medicines to treat breast cancer. The medical oncologist, who works with the surgeon, may advise the use of the drugs like tamoxifen or anastrozole or possibly chemotherapy. These treatments are used in addition to, but not in place of, local breast cancer treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy.

After treatment for breast cancer, it is especially important for a woman to continue to do a monthly breast examination. Regular examinations will help you detect local recurrences. Early signs of recurrence can be noted in the incision area itself, the opposite breast, the axilla , or supraclavicular region .

Maintaining your follow-up schedule with your physician is also necessary so problems can be detected when treatment can be most effective. Your health care provider will also be able to answer any questions you may have about breast self-examination after the following procedures.

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Young Breast Cancer Survivors At Increased Melanoma Risk

A 2004 study looked at a large database of health records for women in nine regions of the United States. Breast cancer survivors age 50 and younger had a 46% increased risk for later being diagnosed with melanoma. Women whod had melanoma were more likely than others to develop breast cancer, though the increase in risk was much lower.

In a 2011 study, female breast cancer survivors under age 45 had a 38% increased risk for developing melanoma compared to the general population. Among women over 45 who survived breast cancer, the increased risk for melanoma was 12%.

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Symptoms Of A Breast Infection

A rash could be a symptom of a breast infection, too. Bacterial breast infections typically involve the fatty tissue in the breast, Dr. Ley states. Swelling, localized pain, redness, and fever are the most common symptoms of a bacterial infection. Idiopathic granulomatous mastitis and Inflammatory breast cancer may mimic breast infection.

Inflammatory breast cancer must be distinguished from a benign breast infection known as mastitis.

Mastitis most commonly occurs in breastfeeding women, but may occasionally occur in women that are not breastfeeding, Dr. Gross states. It is often associated with warm and reddened skin around the nipple and may also be associated with thick white and foul-smelling nipple discharge.

Mastitis is often managed with steps to reduce pain and swelling such as over-the-counter painkillers and hot compresses. If an infection is suspected, then antibiotics can be used as well, Dr. Gross adds.

Invasive Breast Cancer Symptoms

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Most breast cancers start in the ducts, or the tubes that carry milk to the nipple, or in the lobules, the little clusters of sacs where breast milk is made. Invasive breast cancer refers to breast cancer that spreads from the original site to other areas of the breast, the lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body. In these cancers that form in the ducts or lobules, invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma , the cancer spreads from the ducts or lobules to other tissue. Depending on the stage, you may notice symptoms.

Invasive breast cancer symptoms may include:

  • A lump or mass in the breast
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast, even if no lump is felt
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • A lump or swelling in the underarm lymph nodes

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How Metastatic Breast Cancer Can Affect Your Skin And Nails

If youâre being treated for metastatic breast cancer, you might notice some changes in your skin and nails. These effects arenât from the cancer itself. Most of the time, theyâre caused by certain cancer treatments.

Skin and nail changes can happen to anyone being treated for breast cancer. But when youâre having treatment for metastatic breast cancer, these side effects are more likely. This is because metastatic breast cancer usually requires long-term treatment, giving these changes more time to develop.

Hereâs a look at what causes skin and nail changes, the symptoms to watch for, how to help prevent these changes, and how to manage them if they appear.

When To Call Your Healthcare Provider

In general, any changes to the nipple and the areola that affect only one breast are more concerning than changes that affect both breasts. However, if you notice anything unusual about your nipples or areolas in one or both breasts, you should call your healthcare provider. A change in your nipples and areola is the thing to watch out for.

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Is A Red Spot On Breast Cancer

Although red spots or a red rash on the breast are usually symptoms of a noncancerous condition, they can sometimes be an early sign of breast cancer and a person should monitor them closely. Red spots are a typical feature of inflammatory breast cancer or IBC, which is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer.

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What Are The First Signs Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

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Inflammatory breast cancer can be challenging to catch because it doesnt often cause a lump like more common forms of breast cancer. Instead, the first signs are related to inflammation in your affected breast. These symptoms make it easy to confuse IBC for a less serious condition, like an infection.

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