Symptoms Of Other Breast Problems
Most breast pain is nothing to be worried about. But you should still get checked out by your doctor or another health professional if you have breast pain. We dont want you to ignore potential signs of breast cancer or another serious problem.
Make sure you perform monthly breast self-exams. These are extremely important to catch breast cancer as early as possible. Pay close attention if you notice any of the following during your exams:
- Any lumps in your breast
- Changes in how your breasts skin looks or feels
- Changes in the size or shape of your breast
- Clear or bloody nipple discharge
- Lumps or thick areas in or near your breast or underarm
- Tender nipple
Of course, you should get regular mammograms as your doctor recommends. We recommend that all women who are not at high risk for breast cancer start having annual mammograms at age 40. You might need to have mammograms earlier or more often based on your personal and family health history.
Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
- Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
- Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
- A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
- Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
- Changes in your nipple, like one that:
- Pulls inward
- Develops sores
What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
If you develop cancer in the opposite, untreated breast , you receive a new breast cancer diagnosis. This isnt the same as breast cancer recurrence.
When breast cancer returns, it may be:
- Local: Cancer returns in the same breast or chest area as the original tumor.
- Regional: Cancer comes back near the original tumor, in lymph nodes in the armpit or collarbone area.
- Distant: Breast cancer spreads away from the original tumor to the lungs, bones, brain or other parts of the body. This is metastatic cancer, often referred to as stage 4 breast cancer.
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Women Get Real About Numbness Post Mastectomy And Regaining Their Confidence
About one in six women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer choose to remove their breasts with a double mastectomy, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery. Aside from having cancer, those at a high risk of the disease because of family history or due to BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations can opt to get a preventative mastectomy, which reduces the likelihood of developing breast cancer by up to 90 percent and 95 percent, respectively. Either way, numbness mainly in the chest area, and sometimes other parts of the body like the arms and shoulders, affects people who undergo mastectomies â and women we spoke to who had these surgeries said the topic isn’t talked about nearly enough.
Numbness is one of the symptoms of what’s called “post-mastectomy pain syndrome” usually caused by nerve damage, affecting 25 to 60 percent of mastectomy patients, according to The New York Times. Depending on the extent of the surgery, nerves can heal and regenerate overtime, but there are instances where women lose feeling for years. If surgeons don’t try to actively keep or restore nerves during a mastectomy, you’re going to have numbness â and that numbness ranges.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy
There are different ways that cancer and its treatments can cause peripheral neuropathy:
- Some anti-cancer drugs can cause nerve damage. This is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy in people with cancer.
- Cancer can cause peripheral neuropathy in one area of the body if the tumour is growing close to a nerve and presses on it.
- Surgery may damage nerves and cause symptoms in the affected area. For example, breast cancer surgery may cause numbness or tingling and pain in the arm.
- Rarely, radiotherapy may damage nerves in the treated area. This can cause symptoms such as numbness and weakness. These may develop months or years after treatment.
- In some types of cancer, the body may make substances that damage peripheral nerves. This is called paraneoplastic syndrome. It may happen in people with lung cancer, myeloma or lymphoma.
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy depend on which nerves are affected. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are usually mild to start with and gradually get worse.
Peripheral neuropathy usually affects the hands, feet and lower legs.
Symptoms may include:
It is important to tell your doctor if you notice any new symptoms that may be caused by treatment, or if your symptoms are getting worse. If you do have nerve damage, it is better if it is diagnosed as early as possible.
You may be at a higher risk if you:
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Ache To Agony: A Shocking Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Like many people, Lisa Harvey was used to the occasional twinge in her back.
But three years ago, she experienced pain which was so intense that, at times, it took her breath away.
It came on gradually, starting as a nagging pain just below my right shoulder blade, but soon built up into a constant throbbing sensation as if someone had pressed a hot needle into my back, says the deputy registrar of marriages and deaths, from Cardiff, Wales.
I would sit at my desk feeling as if I was about to cry.
I thought I must have somehow pulled a muscle and I wanted to get as much heat into it as possible. Id go home and push a hot water bottle into my back until my skin was red raw.
Occasionally, the excruciating spasms would radiate into her breast and armpit, even as far as her elbow.
But I assumed it was all a knock-on effect of a pulled muscle in my back. I thought perhaps Id picked something up the wrong way.
After several weeks of agony, the mother-of-two described the symptom to her GP and asked for some naproxen she had found this powerful anti-inflammatory effective when she suffered whiplash in a car accident a few years earlier.
But this time the drug only made a slight difference. And it wasnt until three months after the symptom appeared that she discovered what was really wrong: she had breast cancer.
These can include a swollen arm, breathlessness, weight loss or, as in Harveys case, back pain.
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Symptoms Of Nerve Problems
Nerve problems, or neuropathy, are different for every person. Which problems you have and how serious they are depend on which nerves are damaged. It also depends on how many are affected.
You might have nerve problems during cancer treatment or a short time afterward. They might also get worse after your treatment ends.
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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast
If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects.
Short-term side effects
Radiation to the breast can cause:
- Skin irritation, dryness, and color changes
- Breast soreness
- Breast swelling from fluid build-up
To avoid irritating the skin around the breast, women should try to go without wearing a bra whenever they can. If this isnt possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires.
If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely.
Breast soreness, color changes, and fluid build-up will most likely go away a month or 2 after you finish radiation therapy. If fluid build-up continues to be a problem, ask your cancer care team what steps you can take. See Lymphedema for more information.
Long-term changes to the breast
Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. The skin may be more or less sensitive and feel thicker and firmer than it was before treatment. Sometimes the size of your breast changes it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. These side effects may last long after treatment.
After about a year, you shouldnt have any new changes. If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away.
Less common side effects in nearby areas
Clubbing Of The Fingernails And/or Toenails
Clubbing, or enlargement, of the tip of the finger or toe, occurs when excess soft tissue forms under the nail beds. This causes a change in how the nails emerge from the nail bed. In a normal finger or toe, there is a slight V-shaped angle between the nail and the nail bed. In a clubbed finger or toe, there is no V-shaped angle, because the tissue has built up and covered that area.
Clubbing in fingers or toes occurs in many conditions, including lung cancer. One clue to doctors that clubbing could indicate lung cancer is when fingers are also nicotine-stained. Clubbing occurs in stages. In early-stage lung cancer finger clubbing, the nail bed may be soft and the skin next to it may be shiny nails may appear more curved than usual when viewed from the side, and the ends of fingers may become larger than usual. Finger clubbing associated with advanced lung cancer may cause extra areas of bone to form along the finger joints and wrists. Clubbing is one of several symptoms caused by substances secreted by cancer cells.
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Breast Cancer And Shoulder Blade Pain
Some women may feel back pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades before any other sign of breast cancer reveals itself. The discomfort is usually attributed to muscle pain, inflammation of the spine or stretching the tendon and ligaments in the back.
Its important to know that tumors will sometimes develop deep within the breast tissue of the chest and felt in the spine or ribcage. There is also the possibility of metasis, a malignant spreading of the disease to the ribs or spine.
For example, The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports about a patient who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and suffered from a severe back pain.5
The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association reported that metastatic bone disease secondary to breast cancer is a common cause of low back pain. The report stressed the need for further imaging in patients with a history of breast cancer and whose physical examination and plain film radiographs are inconclusive or suspicious.6
Coping With Nerve Problems
Managing symptoms, which can include nerve problems, is an important part of cancer care and treatment. This is called palliative care or supportive care. Talk with your health care team about any symptoms or side effects you or the person you are caring for experience. This is important to do both during your cancer treatment and after treatment is completed.
The right treatment for nerve problems depends on the cause, whether chemotherapy is completed, and your specific problems. You should know that these problems often go away a few months or years after treatment. But sometimes, they are long-lasting or permanent, so you need ways to make the best of your function and recovery.
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Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are part of a system of tubes and glands in the body that filters body fluids and fights infection.
The most common symptom if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is that they feel hard or swollen. You might have any of the following symptoms if your cancer has spread to the lymph nodes:
- a lump or swelling under your armpit
- swelling in your arm or hand
- a lump or swelling in your breast bone or collar bone area
One of the first places breast cancer can spread to is the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side as the breast cancer. This is not a secondary cancer.
What Are The Complications Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Breast cancer that comes back can be harder to treat. The same therapy isnt always effective again. Tumors can develop a tolerance to certain treatments like chemotherapy. Your healthcare provider will try other therapies. You may be able to try drugs under development in clinical trials.
If breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, your healthcare providers still treat it like breast cancer. For instance, breast cancer cells that move to the lungs cause breast cancer in the lungs not lung cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is more difficult to treat than cancer in only one part of the body.
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Youre Wearing The Wrong Bra
An ill-fitting bra can cause pain even if you dont have big boobs. The majority of the time women are wearing bras that are too big, says Dr. Swain, and a too-big bra isnt going to support you very well.
A too-small bra isnt much better, since it might feel restrictive and uncomfortable. If underwire makes your breast pain worse, pick one with more cushioning at the base of the breast, Dr. Swain says.
She also recommends getting fitted at a department or specialty store where you can buy a well-made bra. Specific brands are more supportive than others, she says.
Signs Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Despite initial treatment and success, breast cancer can sometimes come back. This is called recurrence. Recurrence happens when a small number of cells escape the initial treatment.
Symptoms of a recurrence in the same place as the first breast cancer are very similar to symptoms of the first breast cancer. They include:
- a new breast lump
- redness or swelling of the breast
- a new thickening near the mastectomy scar
If breast cancer comes back regionally, it means that the cancer has returned to the lymph nodes or near to the original cancer but not exactly the same place. The symptoms may be slightly different.
Symptoms of a regional recurrence may include:
- lumps in your lymph nodes or near the collarbone
- chest pain
- 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 of stages.
The best way to fight breast cancer is early detection. Talk with your doctor about when you should start scheduling regular mammograms.
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What Is Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves that carry messages between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body.
Different things can cause peripheral neuropathy, such as diabetes, injury, cancer and some cancer treatments. This information is about cancer-related causes of peripheral neuropathy.
For most people, the symptoms of cancer-related peripheral neuropathy will slowly improve when their cancer treatment has finished.
The nervous system includes the brain, the spinal cord and a network of nerves throughout the body. It has two main parts:
- the central nervous system , which is made up of the brain and spinal cord
- the peripheral nervous system , which is made up of nerves that carry messages between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body.
Nipple Discharge Or Changes
One of the most common locations of breast cancer is beneath the nipple. The presence of a cancerous lesion may cause changes in appearance and sensitivity of the nipple. Different texture, color and shape might occur. The nipple may also feel much more tender and have an unusual texture. Some women describe a lack of sensitivity within the nipple, especially during intimate relations.
The American Cancer Society mentions nipple pain, nipple retraction and redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple as possible signs of breast cancer.1 WebMD also mentions itching, a burning sensation, or ulceration in the nipple.3
A discharge of clear liquid, blood, or milk that doesnt happen during breast feeding might also be a sign of breast cancer. According to WebMD, unusual discharge from the nipple is usually caused by benign conditions, but may also indicate breast cancer in some cases, in which the discharge can be clear, bloody, or another color.3
This happens when a tumor forms in the milk duct on the nipple or behind it. When this happens the skin jostles to one side, allowing the tumor to cause irritation and inflammation that results in an unusual discharge from the nipple. Medical evaluation and followups are needed for early detection, but it is important to remember that many tumors are harmless.
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