Further Tests For Breast Cancer
If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.
If your cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you’ll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.
Cancers Linked To Treatment With Tamoxifen
Taking tamoxifen lowers the chance of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer coming back. It also lowers the risk of a second breast cancer. Tamoxifen does, however, increase the risk for uterine cancer . Still, the overall risk of uterine cancer in most women taking tamoxifen is low, and studies have shown that the benefits of this drug in treating breast cancer are greater than the risk of a second cancer.
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Testing For Proteins And Genes
The breast cancer cells will be tested for certain proteins called estrogen and progesterone receptors. If the cancer has these proteins, it’s called a hormone receptor positive breast cancer. The cells are also tested to see if the cancer makes too much of the HER2 protein. If it does, it’s called a HER2-positive cancer. These cancers are sometimes easier to treat. If the cancer doesn’t test positive for any of these proteins, it’s called a triple-negative breast cancer.
The cells might also be tested for certain genes, which can help decide if chemo might be helpful and how likely it is that the cancer will come back. Ask your doctor to explain the tests they plan to do, and what the results might mean.
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Leave A Message After The Tone
People say, âOh, I didnt know if I should call or bother you. I thought maybe you were sleeping,â but I want to be bothered, says Steele. And If I donât want to talk, Iâll leave the machine on. In fact, if the phone keeps ringing but the patient is too tired to respond, I tell them to put a message on their machine, says social worker Maureen Broderick. âThe patient or a family member could say, âAnneâs having her chemo right now, but she appreciates all of your good wishes. Please know that she canât respond right now.’â If youâre a friend and you get that message, you can leave an answer saying, âIâm going to send you my email and would love to hear from you any time you have the energy,â Broderick says. âThat way youâre keeping in touch and letting the breast cancer survivor respond on her own terms.â
Guidelines For Elective Surgical Options
Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations face a significant risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Prophylactic removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries is recommended by about age 40. Many women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations will also elect to have their breasts removed. Nipple-sparing mastectomy is an effective option for these women.
Making the decision to have an elective preventive double mastectomy and removal of the ovaries is personal and should be based on many life factors. You must balance where you are in your childbearing years, what your future choices may be, and whether you would prefer to follow a rigorous screening schedule instead of making such a life-altering choice.
Whatever your decision, we encourage you to make an informed choice. If you do elect to have a preventive double mastectomy, our breast specialists will guide you in the appropriate breast surgery reconstruction to help restore your body image after treatment.
If you are interested in discussing ovary removal surgery , we will refer you to one of our gynecological oncologists.
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Pregnancy Diagnosed During Or After Breast Cancer
Studies of pregnancy after a diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are retrospective and most are case-controlled investigations. Although one study showed an increased risk for relapse, most other studies show either no difference in recurrence or a decrease in risk of recurrence. Breast cancer survivors and their medical caregivers are advised to fully discuss the risk of recurrence when discussing post-cancer reproductive choices.
What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk
If several members of your family have had breast or ovarian cancer, or one of your family members has a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, share this information with your doctor. Your doctor may refer you for genetic counseling. In men, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase the risk of breast cancer, high-grade prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
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Breast Cancer: Risk Factors And Prevention
Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.
ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.
A risk factor is anything that increases a persons chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.
Most breast cancers are sporadic, meaning they develop from damage to a persons genes that occurs by chance after they are born. There is no risk of the person passing this gene on to their children, as the underlying cause of sporadic breast cancer is environmental factors.
Inherited breast cancers are less common, making up 5% to 10% of cancers. Inherited breast cancer occurs when gene changes called mutations are passed down within a family from parent to child. Many of those mutations are in tumor suppressor genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2. These genes normally keep cells from growing out of control and turning into cancer. But when these cells have a mutation, it can cause them to grow out of control.
The following factors may raise a womans risk of developing breast cancer:
Avoid Birth Control Pills Particularly After Age 35 Or If You Smoke
Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer not to mention unwanted pregnancy so theres also a lot in its favor. If youre very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.
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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 and the lymph nodes in the armpit aren’t affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 2 the tumour measures 2-5cm or the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 3 the tumour measures 2-5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues. The lymph nodes in the armpit are affected. However, 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.
Take Care Of Your Mental Health
Seek help from a therapist to address coping with your cancer diagnosis. Onco-psychologists are a great option as they specialize in helping cancer patients. Support groups and peer counselors are also wonderful resources to help navigate the hard realities of the life ling journey in staying cancer-free.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast pain can be a symptom of cancer. If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are
- 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 or 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.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
If You Are Age 55 Or Over:
Mammograms are recommended every other year. You can choose to continue to have them every year.
Clinical breast exams and self-exams are not recommended. But you should be familiar with your breasts and tell a health care provider right away if you notice any changes in how your breasts look or feel.
In Your 60s You Should Discuss Potential Preventative Treatments
The average age of breast cancer development is 59. In your 60s you should be understanding your screening process, the types of screenings you should have and understanding your risk. Additionally, if you have had a breast biopsy and there were findings on them that signify increased risk, you should be considering options for chemoprevention .
For example, Dr. Hunt says, that the treatments or preventions for osteoporosis can also be useful for risk reduction for breast cancer.
Can Ivf Cause Breast Cancer
Theres no evidence that having IVF treatment affects your risk of breast cancer.
Current evidence suggests women who have received IVF treatment are no more likely to develop breast cancer than women who have not had IVF. However, IVF is a relatively new procedure and more research is needed to be sure of all the long-term health effects.
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Find Out Your Family History
Women with a strong family history of cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so its important for women to know their family history. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer or if you have multiplefamily members who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. A doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your family history of the disease.
For More Information See Breast Cancer On The Ncci Website
The National Cancer Control Indicators are a set of indicators across the continuum of cancer care, from Prevention and Screening through to Diagnosis, Treatment, Psychosocial care, Research and Outcomes. The NCCI website allows users to see visual representations of data on each indicator through interactive charts.
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Being Overweight Or Obese
Women who are overweight after their menopause have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who are not overweight. Men also have an increased risk of breast cancer if they are overweight or obese. For both men and women, the risk increases as more weight is gained.
Body mass index is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out whether you are a healthy weight. For most adults, an ideal is between 18.5 to 24.9. Being overweight means having a BMI of between 25 and 30. Obesity means being very overweight with a BMI of 30 or higher.
Try to keep a healthy weight by being physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer in women. The risk increases with each extra unit of alcohol per day. The number of units in a drink depends on the size of the drink, and the volume of alcohol.
The latest UK government guidelines advise drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
Breast Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate Against Race
People of all ethnicities get breast cancer, however, there is a variance amongst different races. According to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, white and African American women have the highest incidence overall, while American Indian/Alaska Native women have the lowest incidence. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are also more likely to get it, due to their high prevalence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Experts believe differences in rates can be explained by the specific risk factors applying to each ethnicity.
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Men Get Breast Cancer Too A Mans Lifetime Risk Of Breast Cancer Is About 1 In 1000
Many people do not realise that men have breast tissue and that they can develop breast cancer. But breast cancer is less common in men because their breast duct cells are less developed than those of women and because they normally have lower levels of female hormones that affect the growth of breast cells.
What Is The Prognosis For Men With Breast Cancer
It depends on the kind, stage, and type of breast cancer. In general, when male breast cancer is detected at an early stage, men have a similar chance of recovery as women with breast cancer.
However, breast cancer is often diagnosed in men at a later stage because many may not routinely examine their breasts, arent aware that breast cancer can occur in men, or are embarrassed about having a breast-related complaint, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright.
Later detection of breast cancer means the cancer is harder to cure and may have spread to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes.
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How To Know If You Have Breast Cancer
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 24 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 574,587 times.
How Does The Doctor Know I Have Breast Cancer
A change seen on your mammogram may be the first sign of breast cancer. Or you may have found a lump or other change in your breast.
The doctor will ask you questions about your health and will do a physical exam. A breast exam is done to look for changes in the nipples or the skin of your breasts. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes under your arm and above your collarbone. Swollen or hard lymph nodes might mean breast cancer has spread there.
Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are mostly used to find breast cancer early. But another mammogram might be done to look more closely at the breast problem you might have.
MRI scan: MRIs use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make detailed pictures. MRIs can be used to learn more about the size of the cancer and look for other tumors in the breast.
Breast ultrasound: For this test, a small wand is moved around on your skin. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off tissues. The echoes are made into a picture that you can see on a computer screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst , or if it’s a tumor that could be cancer.
Nipple discharge exam: If you have fluid coming from your nipple, some of it may be sent to a lab. There, it will be checked to see if there are cancer cells in it.
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Getting The Results Of Genetic Testing
Before getting genetic testing, its important to know ahead of time what the results might or might not tell you about your risk. Genetic testing is not perfect. The tests might not provide clear answers for some people. This is why meeting with a genetic counselor or cancer genetics professional is important, even before being tested.
The results of genetic testing might come back as:
- Positive for a mutation that was tested for. If the test does find an important mutation, there might be steps you can take to help lower your risk of breast cancer . If youve already been diagnosed with breast cancer, a positive result might affect your breast cancer treatment options.
- Negative for the mutation tested for. It can be reassuring to find out that the test didnt find a mutation that increases your risk. But its important to know that genetic test results cant always guarantee that youre not at increased risk. For instance, there might be a chance that you have a gene change that is not currently being tested for.
- Inconclusive. In some cases, the test might not be able to tell for sure if you have a gene mutation.
- Positive for a variant of unknown significance . This means that the test found a gene change , but its not known if this particular change affects your risk.
To learn more about these different types of test results, see What Happens During Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk?