How Is A Breast Infection Diagnosed
In a breastfeeding woman, a doctor can typically diagnose mastitis based on a physical examination and a review of your symptoms. Your doctor will also want to rule out whether the infection has formed an abscess that needs to be drained, which can be done during the physical exam.
If the infection keeps coming back, breast milk may be sent to a laboratory to determine what bacteria might be present.
Other tests may be necessary to determine the cause if you have a breast infection and youre not breastfeeding. Testing may include a mammogram or even a biopsy of breast tissue to rule out breast cancer. A mammogram is an imaging test that uses low-energy X-rays to examine the breast. A breast biopsy involves the removal of a small tissue sample from the breast for lab testing to determine if any cancerous cell changes are present.
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Further Studies Reveal Possible Connection
For a later 2010 study, researchers examined the clinical records of 34 patients with malignant shoulder tumors and 505 patients with shoulder pain and stiffness. They found that among the 34 tumor patients, nine had been misdiagnosed initially with frozen shoulder syndrome. Another two also experienced shoulder pain and stiffness before their diagnosis of cancer.
Among the 505 patients with shoulder pain and stiffness, four were later diagnosed as having malignant tumors. One of those four had been initially misdiagnosed with frozen shoulder syndrome.
Altogether, in 10 of the patients, an initial misdiagnosis of frozen shoulder syndrome caused a significant delay in reaching the correct diagnosis and in administering treatment. The researchers suggested that doctors carefully re-examine frozen shoulder patients with imaging tests to check for cancer.
In a more recent 2017 study, researchers noted that frozen shoulder could be a complication or symptom of cancer. They examined data from more than 29,000 patients with frozen shoulder and observed 2,572 cases of cancer.
In this study, researchers identified other types of cancer besides shoulder tumors, including lung cancer, breast cancer, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, showing that shoulder pain could be a symptom of these cancers as well. The researchers concluded that a frozen shoulder could be an early predictor for a subsequent cancer diagnosis.
What Causes This Discomfort
Can Breast Cancer Cause Chest Pain?
1. The Tumor2. Spread of the Cancer
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Most Breast Pain Is Benign
Breast pain, or mastalgia, is uncommon with breast cancer. Most of the time, breast pain happens along with your menstrual cycle, but it can also be linked to benign non-hormonal causes. Other benign conditions which can cause breast pain include breast cysts, fibroadenomas or blocked milk ducts, but even though the pain with these conditions can be very annoying, it is not usually dangerous.
Does Breast Pain Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Though it’s 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.
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Why Does My Back Hurt When I Have Breast Cancer
When cancer spreads, it can get into the bones and weaken them. Pain in the back could be a sign that a spinal bone has fractured or that the tumor is pressing on the spinal cord. Its important to remember that back pain is a very common condition. Its much more commonly caused by conditions such as: muscle strains.
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.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Advanced Breast Cancer
When cancer cells spread to other parts of your body, thats known as stage IV, or metastatic, breast cancer. The most common places for metastatic breast cancer to spread to are the lungs, bones, liver, and brain.
The vast majority of breast cancers are found before this pointonly 6% of women have metastatic cancer when they are diagnosed. Also important: Having any of these symptoms does not mean you have stage IV cancer, either. Its important to talk with your doctor to figure out whats going on. Here are some of the basic symptoms.
Symptoms of spreading to your lungs:
chronic chest infection
Symptoms of spreading to your brain:
weak or numb limbs
memory problems and/or unusual behavior
Radioprotective Drugs For Reducing Side Effects
One way to reduce side effects is by using radioprotective drugs, but these are only used for certain types of radiation given to certain parts of the body. These drugs are given before radiation treatment to protect certain normal tissues in the treatment area. The one most commonly used today is amifostine. This drug may be used in people with head and neck cancer to reduce the mouth problems caused by radiation therapy.
Not all doctors agree on how these drugs should be used in radiation therapy. These drugs have their own side effects, too, so be sure you understand what to look for.
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Are More Advanced Stages Of Breast Cancer More Painful
Stage 4 breast cancer is advanced, which means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The spread can be painful if the additional tumors press on surrounding tissues or nerves. Breast cancer most commonly metastasizes to:
Bone: This is the most common location of breast cancer mets, and they can cause a persistent, nagging pain in the bone. About 3 out of every 4 people with bone metastasis will have pain associated with it.
Brain: About half of people who have brain metastases have headaches.
Lung: Metastases in a lung rarely cause pain, though some people can feel them when they take a deep breath.
Liver: Liver tumors are also less likely to cause any pain. Sometimes these tumors lead to a build-up of fluid in the abdomen , which can make someone feel uncomfortable and bloated.
Sometimes, surgery or radiation therapy can be helpful if a metastatic tumor is causing pain. These treatments can either remove or shrink the tumor for treatment. But well discuss other options for pain relief below.
Are You Having Breast Cancer Pain
How often does breast cancer cause breast pain? If you have breast pain, what are the chances it’s cancer? What types of breast cancers are more likely to be painful? Since breast pain affects roughly half of all women at some point in our lives, these are important questions to be asking.
Learn about about how often breast cancer is painful , and whether pain may increase your risk of breast cancer in the future.
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Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In The Bones
Although metastatic breast cancer can potentially occur in any bone in the body, it most often affects the ribs, spine, pelvis and long bones in the arms and legs. Breast cancer that has spread to the bones may cause:
- Sudden bone pain, such as hip or back pain, which may feel similar to the discomfort associated with arthritis or exercise strain but is persistent or progressively worse even with rest or conservative measures
- An increased risk of bone fractures that result from minimal trauma, such as a minor fall
- An elevated level of calcium in the blood, which can lead to fatigue, nausea, dehydration and loss of appetite
- Numbness or muscle weakness in an arm or leg
Is Surgery Necessary For Breast Lumps
- In general, surgery is not necessary to treat breast pain unless a mass is found. Surgery is performed to remove a lump.
- If an abscess is present, it must be drained. After injection of local anesthetic, the doctor may drain an abscess near the surface of the skin either by aspiration with a needle and syringe or by using a small incision. This can be done in the doctor’s office or Emergency Department.
- If the abscess is deep in the breast, it may require surgical drainage in the operating room. This is usually done under general anesthesia in order to minimize pain and completely drain the abscess. If your infection worsens in spite of oral antibiotics or if you have a deep abscess requiring surgical treatment, you may be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics.
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Fat Necrosis Vs Oil Cysts
Oil cysts can also cause a lump in your breast. Oil cysts are benign, or noncancerous, fluid-filled sacs that can appear in your breast. Like other cysts, they will most likely feel smooth, squishy, and flexible. Oil cysts can form for no reason, but they often appear after breast surgery or trauma. As your breast heals from surgery or trauma, breast fat necrosis can melt instead of hardening into scar tissue. The melted fat can collect in one place in your breast and your body will cause a layer of calcium to form around it. This melted fat surrounded by calcium is an oil cyst.
If you have any oil cyst, the lump is probably the only symptom youll notice. These cysts can show up on mammograms, but theyre usually diagnosed with a breast ultrasound.
In many cases, an oil cyst will go away on its own, so your doctor might recommend watchful waiting. If the cyst is painful or is causing you anxiety, a doctor can use needle aspiration to drain the fluid. This usually deflates the cyst.
Diagnosing Chest Wall Pain
See your GP if your breast pain is new and carries on.
Your GP will examine your breasts and take a history of the type of pain you have and how often it occurs. To check how long the pain lasts for, how severe the pain is or if the pain may be linked to your menstrual cycle, your GP may ask you to fill in a simple pain chart.
If your GP thinks you may have chest wall pain, they may ask you to lean forward during the examination. This is to help them assess if the pain is inside your breast or in the chest wall.
Your GP may refer you to a breast clinic where youll be seen by specialist doctors or nurses for a more detailed assessment.
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When To Seek Medical Care
Breast lumps ideally should be checked about one week after your period starts. Fibrocystic changes in the breast are usually irregular and mobile, and you may find more than one lump. Cancerous tumors are usually hard and firm and do not typically move a great deal.
- You have any abnormal discharge from your nipples.
- Breast pain is making it difficult for you to function each day.
- You have prolonged, unexplained breast pain.
- You have any other associated symptoms that you are worried about. You should see a doctor if you experience any changes in your breasts.
- A mass or tender lump in the breast that does not disappear after nursing
- Changes in the skin
- Any of these symptoms with or without fever
My Lump Was Tiny And Aggressive Sherree Diagnosed At 47
Sherree had a tiny but aggressive tumor. She received 12 weeks of chemo, six weeks of radiation, and seven years of Tamoxifen. Sherree was also part of a double-blind study for the drug Avastin, which she has been on for the last three years.
When Sherree had a lumpectomy performed to remove the tumor, the margins werent clean, meaning the tumor was starting to spread. They had to go back in and remove more. She then opted for a mastectomy to ensure it was all out. Sherree is celebrating her eight-year survivorversary and is counting the days to hitting the big #10.
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Shoulder Pain Becomes Breast Cancer
I’m posting on here as I need some help/guidance/advice as I feel at a loss.
My mum has had shoulder pain over the last few months which she has been to the doctors about numerous times. They sent her for X Ray’s and said that they couldn’t see what was wrong but suspected arthritis. The pain was getting worse and has now spread under her arm so she went back again. The nurse felt her breast and sent her for a mammogram.
On Thursday, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes. This was the result of a biopsy that she’d had. At the minute we don’t know if it has spread any further or what stage it is. All they have said is that the cells are a grade 3 – which I think means the worst and that they are aggressive?
She’s got to go back on Thursday for some more results related to hormones, but I don’t understand what that means. I’m guessing from this they can start the course of treatment.
However she’s got to wait another 12 days for the CT scan to find out if it has spread.
I’m worried that it has because the pain started in her shoulder – so there is a chance it could be in her bones. Has anyone else ever had that?
I don’t want them to delay the start of the treatment but will that begin after the results of the CT scan which could potentially be a month away or will they start that immediately on Thursday?
Metastatic Breast Cancer & Pain
Metastatic breast cancer may also cause pain. It could be from a larger tumorthese are often over two centimeters in diameteror pain in other regions of the body due to the spread of cancer. If breast cancer spreads to your bones, it may cause bone pain in your chest, or back pain with leg weakness. If cancer spreads to your brain, it may cause headaches.
If breast cancer travels to the adrenal glands, you may feel a dull back pain. If your breast cancer spreads to your liver, you could have pain in the upper right part of the abdomen and develop jaundice .
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How Sex Might Be Affected
With some types of radiation therapy involving the pelvis and/or sex organs, men and women may notice changes in their ability to enjoy sex or a decrease in their level of desire.
For women: During radiation treatment to the pelvis, some women are told not to have sex. Some women may find sex painful. Treatment can also cause vaginal itching, burning, and dryness. You most likely will be able to have sex within a few weeks after treatment ends, but check with your doctor first. Some types of treatment can have long-term effects, such as scar tissue that could affect the ability of the vagina to stretch during sex. Again, your cancer care team can offer ways to help if this happens to you. You can also get more information in Sex and Women With Cancer.
For men: Radiation may affect the nerves that allow a man to have erections. If erection problems do occur, they are usually gradual, over the course of many months or years. Talk with your doctor about treatment options if this is a concern for you. You can get more information in Sex and Men With Cancer.
If you get internal radiation therapy with seed implants, check with your cancer care team about safety precautions during sex
You Have A Deep Bruise
If your breast gets bumped or injured, you can develop a deep bruise that isn’t always visible.
If one of your breasts is tender and you think you may have hurt it, you can look for signs like:
- You don’t feel any new lumps or masses.
- It starts to feel better after a few days of not touching the breast at all.
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