How Will I Know If The Chemotherapy Treatments Are Working
Some people may think that their chemotherapy treatment is not working if they do not experience side effects. This is just a myth. Chemotherapy does not have to cause side effects in order to be effective against cancer cells.
If you are receiving adjuvant chemotherapy , it is not possible for your doctor to directly determine whether the treatment is working because there are no tumors left to assess. However, adjuvant chemotherapy treatments have proved helpful in studies in which some women were given chemotherapy while others were not. Women given adjuvant chemotherapy have had their cancers recur less often if they received such chemotherapy treatments. Recurrent breast cancer is virtually always incurable. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence. It attempts to increase the chance that a patient with breast cancer will be cured.
After completing adjuvant therapy, your doctor will evaluate your progress through periodic physical examinations, routine mammography, and appropriate testing if a new problem develops. If you are receiving chemotherapy for metastatic disease, progress will be monitored by blood tests, scans, and/or X-rays.
Breast Lumps: Why Size Movability And Pain Matter
Your breasts are made up of fat, nerves, blood vessels, fibrous connective tissue, and glandular tissue, as well as an intricate system of milk-producing lobules , and ducts . This anatomy in and of itself creates a lumpy, uneven terrain.
A lump in the breast distinguishes itself from this background of normal irregularities. Harmless breast lumps can be solid and unmovable, like a dried bean; or movable, soft, and fluid-filled you can roll it between your fingers like a grape. A lump may be pea-size, smaller than a pea, or even several inches across, although this larger size is rare.
What typically differentiates a benign breast lump from a cancerous breast lump is movement. That is, a fluid-filled lump that rolls between the fingers is less likely to be cancerous than a hard lump in your breast that feels rooted in place.
Another rule of thumb has to do with pain. Breast cancer does not usually cause pain. Benign conditions sometimes do, although there are exceptions to this rule as well. For instance, a rare form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, may cause symptoms such as aching, tenderness, pain, or burning in the breast.
The only way to know the status of a lump for sure is through medical tests, such as;an ultrasound, a mammogram, or a fine needle aspiration , in which your doctor uses a tiny needle to extract a bit of the lump for laboratory examination.
What Is A Breast Cyst
Breast cysts form when theres a build-up of fluid. There may be a connection between cysts and fluctuating hormone levels, but the exact cause isnt clear.
These round or oval fluid-filled sacs are fairly common. This is particularly true among people in their 40s who were assigned female at birth.
Cysts can be so small that you cant feel or see them without breast imaging. Sometimes, they can grow quite large .
Symptoms may vary in severity during your menstrual cycle and may include:
Cysts can be simple, complex, or complicated:
- Simple cysts. These cysts have smooth borders, thin walls, and are totally filled with fluid. Theyre always benign. Cysts that form due to fibrocystic changes are simple cysts.
- Complex cysts. Unlike simple cysts, complex cysts have irregular borders, thick walls, and some solid matter within the fluid. Most are benign.
- Complicated cysts. These cysts are somewhere in between simple and complex. They dont have thick walls, but they may have some solid matter within the fluid. Most are benign.
A tumor of the breast is a solid mass that can be cancerous or noncancerous.
You May Like: Can Metastatic Breast Cancer Go Into Remission
Breast Cancer Can Cause Symptoms Other Than Breast Lump
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Besides a lump in the breast, are there other symptoms of breast cancer? Is breast pain something to be concerned about?
ANSWER: Yes, breast cancer can cause symptoms other than a breast lump. To make it easier to spot changes that could be symptoms, you should be familiar with what your breasts usually look like. If you notice any unusual breast changes, have them examined by your doctor.
Breast cancer can lead to a variety of symptoms. The most obvious is a breast lump. But other symptoms include skin changes on your breast, such as redness, dimpling or puckering of the skin. Breast cancer also can cause a skin rash that looks similar to mastitis — an infection of the breast tissue that most often affects women who are breast feeding. If you find a new rash or breast redness, and you are not breast feeding, that should be evaluated by your doctor.
Nipple changes, such as a nipple turning inward, or inverting, or becoming flatter than usual, may be symptoms of breast cancer. In some cases, discharge from a nipple also may signal breast cancer. It is uncommon for breast cancer to cause pain. In fact, less than 10 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer report pain as a symptom. If you have breast pain that lasts and seems to involve one area of the breast, though, have it checked. It could be a symptom of cancer or another breast condition.
Symptoms Of Angiosarcoma Of The Breast
Another rare form of breast cancer, angiosarcoma forms inside the lymph and blood vessels. Only a biopsy may definitively diagnose this type of cancer. Angiosarcoma can cause changes to the skin of your breast, such as the development of purple-colored nodules that resemble a bruise. These nodules, if bumped or scratched, may bleed. Over time, these discolored areas may expand, making your skin appear swollen in that area. You may or may not have breast lumps with angiosarcoma. If you also have lymphedema, which is swelling caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid, angiosarcoma may occur in the affected arm. Cancer treatment sometimes damages the lymph vessels, which may lead to lymphedema.
Also Check: What Are Some Symptoms For Breast Cancer
Breast Changes Of Concern
Some breast changes can be felt by a woman or her health care provider, but most can be detected only during an imaging procedure such as a mammogram, MRI, or ultrasound. Whether a breast change was found by your doctor or you noticed a change, its important to follow up with your doctor to have the change checked and properly diagnosed.
Check with your health care provider if your breast looks or feels different, or if you notice one of these symptoms:
- Lump or firm feeling in your breast or under your arm. Lumps come in different shapes and sizes. Normal breast tissue can sometimes feel lumpy. Doing breast self-exams can help you learn how your breasts normally feel and make it easier to notice and find any changes, but breast self-exams are not a substitute for mammograms.
- Nipple changes or discharge. Nipple discharge may be different colors or textures. It can be caused by birth control pills, some medicines, and infections. But because it can also be a sign of cancer, it should always be checked.
- Skin that is itchy, red, scaled, dimpled or puckered
Patients And Study Designs
Patients were drawn from two prospective studies that assessed the possible impact of the menstrual cycle on breast tumour biology in ER+ breast cancer. The first of these was MenCER , a UK-based multicentre study. In addition, menstrual cycle effects were studied in patients from a study of neoadjuvant oophorectomy in Vietnam. The endocrine and molecular effects of OvX in this Vietnamese study have been recently published.
Exclusion criteria for both studies included: metastatic disease, use of oral contraceptives or other hormonal contraceptives and concomitant use of medications known to influence oestrogen levels. Informed consent was obtained from all participants.
Don’t Miss: How To Tell Your Family You Have Breast Cancer
Changes Caused By Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy causes changes to the ovaries which may lead to changes to periods. Although chemotherapy destroys cancer cells it can also affect any cells that grow and divide rapidly this includes cells in the ovaries. In turn this can affect the functioning of the ovaries, reducing the number and quality of eggs.
What happens to a womans periods during chemotherapy depends on the type of drugs used, the dose given and the age of the woman having treatment. Some women continue to have periods throughout treatment but its common for periods to stop during chemotherapy and this can be temporary or permanent. They may restart again at the end of treatment or even months or years later again this can depend on age. The younger someone is the more likely it is their periods will return. You can read about other womens experiences by visiting our Forum.
Many younger women with breast cancer believe the return of their periods means they may be able to have children if they want to. However, this isnt necessarily the case. The reverse is also true, just because periods are absent or stop/start doesnt mean you cant get pregnant, so contraception will be important unless youre planning for a baby.
How Breast Cancer Can Affect Menstrual Cycles
As autumn sets in, the month of October is also the time to raise awareness for breast cancer.;
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, with around 1 in 8 women diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime.
But while breast cancer can affect a patients physical and mental wellbeing it is lesser known or discussed for its common impact on menstrual cycles.
Thats why, in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness month, intimate health care brand INTIMINA has asked its expert Gynecologist, Dr Shree Datta to answer some of the most pressing questions about breast cancer in relation to menstruation.
Dr Shree Datta takes a deep dive into how menstrual and reproductive history can affect breast cancer risks and reveals some practical advice and coping mechanisms for dealing with changes to the menstrual cycles during Breast cancer treatment.;
1. Can cancer affect the menstrual cycle and how?
Interestingly, its the other way around studies suggest that the menstrual cycle can influence your risk of breast cancer for example, the age at which you have your first period, and the age at menopause affect your risk of breast cancer.
This relates to the number of menstrual cycles you have; in fact, the number of periods you have and age of first pregnancy can also affect your risk of breast cancer. A long or irregular menstrual cycle means you have fewer periods and can lower the risk of breast cancer in younger women.
Also Check: Can Breast Cancer Cause Shortness Of Breath
Will My Menstrual Flow Be Different After Chemotherapy
Menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman. Some women may experience less frequent cycles than they had prior to chemotherapy. They may skip a period or increase the number of days between periods. Other women may have more frequent periods.
Some women may not experience a change in the length of their menstrual cycles but the flow pattern may be different than it was before treatment . Mixed patterns are also common: some women may have shorter menstrual cycles with heavier bleeding, or infrequent cycles with many days of a very high flow.
Even though periods tend to be irregular around the time of menopause, it is important to be aware of bleeding that is not normal for you. It is very important to call your physician if you ever have very heavy bleeding that is associated with weakness or dizziness.
Vitamins And Dietary Supplements
A few of the alternative treatments that have been evaluated to some degree include;evening primrose oil;, vitex agnus, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.
A 2018 double-blinded randomized controlled study looked at the ability of camomile drops to improve cyclic breast pain. The supplement was found to be safe and well-tolerated as well as effective in reducing moderate cyclic breast pain.
Gynecologist Reveals How Breast Cancer Can Affect Menstrual Cycles
As autumn sets in, the month of October is also the time to raise awareness for breast cancer.;
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, with around 1 in 8 women diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime. *;
But while breast cancer can affect a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing it is lesser-known or discussed for its common impact on menstrual cycles.
Thats why, in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness month, intimate health care brand INTIMINA has asked its expert Gynecologist, Dr. Shree Datta to answer some of the most pressing questions about breast cancer in relation to menstruation.
Dr. Shree Datta takes a deep dive into how menstrual and reproductive history can affect breast cancer risks and reveals some practical advice and coping mechanisms for dealing with changes to the menstrual cycles during Breast cancer treatment.;
1. Can cancer affect the menstrual cycle and how?
2. How does chemotherapy affect women’s bodies and menstrual cycles?
Other common side effects of chemotherapy include losing your appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, hair loss, bruising or bleeding, a higher risk of infection, mood changes, and tiredness.
3. How long does it take for a menstrual cycle to come back to normal after finishing chemotherapy?
4. How many women experience a change in their cycles during chemotherapy, and how long it takes for things to go back to normal after chemotherapy?;
7. How to keep a positive mind?
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer ;rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on a mammogram. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, itchy breast that is tender to the touch
- The surface of the breast may take on a ridged or pitted appearance, similar to an orange peel
- Heaviness, burning, or aching in one breast
- One breast is visibly larger than the other
- Inverted nipple
- No mass is felt with a breast self-exam;
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm and/or above the collarbone
- Symptoms unresolved after a course of antibiotics
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer usually does not cause a distinct lump in the breast. Therefore, a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, or even a mammogram may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Ultrasounds may also miss inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can develop rapidly, and the disease can progress quickly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.
For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, redness, swelling, itchiness and soreness are often signs of a breast infection such as mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or nursing and you develop these symptoms, your doctor should test for inflammatory breast cancer.
Recommended Reading: Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Cancer Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore
The warning signs of gynecologic cancers can be vague and similar tothose of other conditions. That’s why its important to know what tolook for.
Cancer may not be on your radar, especially if youre relatively young and healthy. But it should be, regardless of your age or family history.
Each year,;nearly; 90,000 women in the United States;are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer, such as;endometrial ,;ovarian cancer;or;cervical cancer.;More than 242,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.;;
Most of these cancers occur in women after menopause.;But gynecologic cancers can strike women before menopause, too.
“Your risk for all cancer types rises as you age, but its important to know what to look for at any age,” says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center. “That way, if symptoms appear, you can tell your doctor right away.”
The signs of cancer, particularly gynecologic cancers, can be vague and similar to those of other conditions. Only breast and cervical cancers can be detected through screening. So recognizing these symptoms and talking about them with your gynecologist or primary care doctor can increase your odds of finding cancer early, when its most treatable.
Here are 10 cancer symptoms that every woman should be on the lookout for.
3. Vaginal discharge colored with blood. Bloody, dark or smelly discharge is usually a sign of infection. But sometimes, its a warning sign of cervical, vaginal or endometrial cancer.
Your Period Has Slowed Or Stopped Continued
For similar reasons, women who have eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa can also stop getting their period. Severely restricting the amount of calories you eat suppresses the release of hormones your body needs for ovulation.
Other possible causes of missed periods include:
- Thyroid or pituitary gland disorders
- Disorder of the hypothalamus
- Oral contraceptives
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome and other hormone imbalances
- Ovarian failure
- Disease of the uterus
You May Like: How Do Doctors Treat Breast Cancer
Unconventional Signs Of Breast Cancer That You Must Know About
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease in the world that affects both men and women. The chances of getting the disease increase as you age, but detecting it at an early stage could be life saving. In this article I am going to discuss uncommon signs and symptoms of breast cancer that many people overlook.
The majority of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in people who are aged 40 and up, but in the instances where it affects younger people it tends to be more aggressive. This makes early detection an essential part of treating the disease within its onset stages.
Its important to have a firm grasp of bodily knowledge, as the earliest stages of breast cancer usually come without pain. The most common indicator is the discovery of a lump, but cancer goes through multiple progressive stages before these lumps form. It may sometimes take years for lumps to develop, so people shouldnt rely solely on lumps to indicate breast cancer, as they usually indicate an already progressive disease.
There are several signs that the American Cancer Society claim should be analyzed closely by a specialist. It is important to remember that these signs arent definitive proof of existing breast cancer. They can sometimes indicate smaller hormonal or health factors, so visiting an expert can clear any ambiguity. Some of the more obvious signs are:
- Change in breast structure
- Changes in the skin or nipple