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Can Breast Cancer Cause Shortness Of Breath

What Causes Lung Toxicity

Dyspnea, or shortness of breath: Causes and treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may both cause lung toxicity. One of the ways that radiation and chemotherapy drugs damage cells is by forming free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules which are formed during many normal cellular processes that involve oxygen, such as burning fuel for energy. They are also formed from exposure to elements in the environment, like tobacco smoke, radiation and chemotherapy drugs. The free radical damage from radiation and chemotherapy is worse in the lungs because of the high concentration of oxygen.

Any chemotherapy drug can damage the lungs. Radiation to the chest cavity commonly causes lung toxicity. Cancers that may be treated with radiation to the chest cavity include breast cancer, lung cancer, and Hodgkins lymphoma. Symptoms may not occur until 2-3 months after radiation treatment.

The chemotherapy drugs that have been reported to cause lung damage include:

  • Arsenic trioxide

Notify your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Change In Breast Shape Size And Colour

If youve had radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery, the breast tissue on the treated side may feel firmer than before, or the breast may be smaller and look different.;

Although this is normal, you may be concerned about differences in the size of your breasts, or worry that the difference is noticeable when youre dressed.;

You can discuss this with your breast surgeon to see if anything can be done to make the difference less noticeable.;

Tips For Relieving Shortness Of Breath

Use controlled breathing techniques.;Focusing on your breathing pattern may help decrease shortness of breath. Take slow, even breaths by inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of two and exhaling for a count of four. When you exhale, put your lips together as if you are slowly blowing out a candle.

Pace your activities.;Plan your day so you use your energy on the activities most important to you first and limit unnecessary activities. If you become short of breath during an activity, stop and rest. Avoid multiple trips up and down stairs and take rest breaks in between and during activities.

Try to relax.;When you feel short of breath, its important to stay calm, since anxiety can make breathing problems worse. A behavioral health;therapist may recommend strategies, such as relaxation techniques, meditation or massage. A professional counselor/therapist can also provide emotional support and practical advice.

Find a comfortable position.;Comfortable positioning may help make breathing easier. While in bed, raise your head on pillows so youre close to sitting up. Do not lie flat on your back. Instead, lie with your knees bent, or place a pillow under your knees. When sitting in a chair, sit upright and lean slightly forward with your arms resting on a table.

Visit a rehabilitation therapist.;A rehabilitation program can teach you various techniques and therapies to help decrease shortness of breath.

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Tips To Help With Breathlessness

  • Ask the hospital physiotherapist or nurse to show you some breathing exercises that will help to strengthen your muscles used in breathing. Follow any exercise plan they recommend.
  • The physiotherapist can also show you ways to sit that will increase the amount of air you can take into your body.
  • You may find that you sleep better in a comfortable chair than in a bed.
  • Avoid doing things that increase your shortness of breath, such as bending over and climbing flights of stairs. Take your time getting dressed and wear clothes and shoes that are easy to put on.
  • Anxiety can make a breathing problem seem much worse, so a quiet setting can really help. Listen to relaxing music;too.;
  • If you are anxious and upset, ask to speak to a counsellor about your feelings it may help.;

If you are feeling breathless or notice any change in your breathing, tell your doctor. It is important your doctor finds out the cause of your breathlessness. That way they can treat it properly. We also have advice on coping with an episode of breathlessness and what to do in an emergency

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

6 Long

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , most commonly emphysema or chronic bronchitis, frequently have chronic shortness of breath and a chronic productive cough. An acute exacerbation presents with increased shortness of breath and sputum production.COPD is a risk factor for pneumonia; thus this condition should be ruled out. In an acute exacerbation treatment is with a combination of anticholinergics, beta2-adrenoceptor agonists, steroids and possibly positive pressure ventilation.

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What Tests Might I Have

To treat breathlessness, your doctor will need to know whats causing it. You may need some of the following tests:

  • Chest X-ray.;A chest X-ray can check your lungs for signs of infection, damage or a build-up of fluid.
  • Blood test.;A blood test can give your doctor more information about your breathlessness and what is causing it.;
  • Pulmonary function tests .;Pulmonary function tests;measure how well your lungs work.
  • CT scan.;A CT scan gives a more accurate picture of what is going on inside your body. It does this by taking many X-rays at different angles. A CT scan can help to find disease and any build-up of fluid throughout your body.

Local Symptoms And Systemic Symptoms

Some symptoms of lymphoma affect the area in and around the lymphoma itself. These are called local symptoms. The most common local symptom is a swollen lymph node or nodes. Other local symptoms are caused by swollen nodes pressing on nearby tissues. The symptoms you experience depend on where the swollen lymph nodes are. You might have:

Around 1 in 4 people with Hodgkin lymphoma and 1 in 3 people with high-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma may have systemic symptoms. Systemic symptoms are less common in people with low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma.;

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What Is Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes, to other parts of the body. Metastatic breast cancer is also referred to as stage IV or advanced breast cancer. Most diagnoses are made early, before the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. But its important to keep in mind that an estimated three in four of the women living with metastatic breast cancer were initially diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer.

If Your Breast Cancer Has Spread

Dr. A Montour: Anxiety and shortness of breath

Even if your breast cancer has spread to other parts of your body, it does not necessarily mean its not treatable. If the cancer cannot be removed, the goal of treatment is to improve symptoms, improve quality of life and extend survival.

Some women live with breast cancer for several years as they learn to adjust and accept that theyll be on treatment for an indefinite period of time, explains Dr. Roesch. Your cancer team will help you learn and cope with what you can expect on this journey.

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If You Want To Try To Stop Losing Weight

  • Be sure to drink enough water and other liquids. Drink liquids between meals not during, so you wont fill up.
  • Choose snacks that are high in calories and protein such as nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, granola, peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, or cheese.
  • Drink smoothies, milkshakes, and nutritional supplements or bars to put more calories and protein in your diet.
  • Eat your favorite food any time of the day: Eat breakfast foods for dinner; dinner foods for lunch
  • Try adding high-calorie foods such as whipped cream, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, or gravy to what you eat to avoid further weight loss.
  • Ask about meeting with a dietitian.

What Is Being Done To Help People With Metastatic Breast Cancer

While metastatic breast cancer cant be cured as of today, survival time has increased dramatically. Finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer is a top priority for many of the nations leading clinical researchers. Refer to the Susan G. Komen website to find a local affiliate, obtain educational materials, learn about additional resources, and become informed about clinical trial opportunities.

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How Do Breast Cancers Spread

Cancer cells break away from the primary tumor, entering the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. As large vessels narrow, cancer cells stop traveling and lodge themselves in a new area. Then they begin dividing and moving into surrounding tissue. The cancer cells take over the new area, crowding out healthy cells and forming a new tumor. Cancer cells are insidious because the new tumor can set up its own network of blood vessels to obtain nutrients for growth and further spread.

What Treatments Are Available For Metastatic Breast Cancer In The Lungs

Cancer Signs You Can

Metastatic breast cancer that has migrated to the lungs is stage IV cancer and is considered incurable. However, many patients can still have several years of high-quality life with proper treatment to slow the growth and spread of cancer cells. Some options include chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, and radiation. Your doctor may suggest one of these treatments or a combination.

Your treatment plan will likely depend on several factors, such as how extensive the cancer is within the lung, whether the cancer has spread to other organs, what symptoms you have, what treatments youve already had, whether youve been through menopause, and your general health. You can help yourself stay healthy for cancer treatment by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising as much as possible.

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Dyspnea Is A Common Symptom Of Lung Breast Cancer

Oncology NEWS International

HOUSTON–More than half of the patients who present to M.D. Anderson Cancer Centers emergency room have a complaint of dyspnea, Sandra Henke, RN, a thoracic oncology nurse at M.D. Anderson, said at the Centers 2nd Annual Nursing Conference. “Even when there are other emergency symptoms, breathing difficulties are the most pronounced because they cause the most distress for the patient,” Ms. Henke said.

HOUSTON–More than half of the patients who present to M.D. Anderson Cancer Centers emergency room have a complaint of dyspnea, Sandra Henke, RN, a thoracic oncology nurse at M.D. Anderson, said at the Centers 2nd Annual Nursing Conference. “Even when there are other emergency symptoms, breathing difficulties are the most pronounced because they cause the most distress for the patient,” Ms. Henke said.

Dyspnea can also be problematic for the medical staff because it is difficult to determine its direct cause. “The mechanisms that cause dyspnea are complex, which may prevent us from immediately determining its underlying cause,” she said.

The cancer patients most likely to present with dyspnea are those with lung cancer, though often not until the later stages of the disease.

The second tumor group in which dyspnea most commonly occurs is breast cancer. In this group, breathing problems are caused by pleural effusions rather than by a blockage in the lungs.

Possible Causes

Stepwise Assessment

Treating Dyspnea

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Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Tumors that originate in the breast tissue can indicate the development of breast cancer, although several types of breast lumps are benign . The disease is most common in women but can also occur in men. Catching any cancer, including breast cancer, as early as possible gives medical professionals and patients the best chance to slow or eradicate the disease. Recognizing the symptoms of breast cancer can help with prompt diagnosis.

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Swelling In The Arms Or Legs

Swollen lymph nodes can sometimes block the lymphatic vessels that run through the body. This stops fluid called lymph draining properly from the bodys tissues. This fluid can build up, causing swelling and feelings of tightness, heaviness or soreness. This is called lymphoedema. It usually affects an arm or a leg, although other areas of the body can be affected depending on where your lymphoma is. Other conditions, such as infection, injury, or some types of surgery, can also cause lymphoedema.

It is important to know that lymphoedema is very uncommon and usually gets better once treatment is started. If you are finding it hard to cope with, there are some things you can do that might help.

See your GP if you have any symptoms of lymphoedema.

Pain And Skin Changes

What is Shortness of Breath?

During and just after treatment, your treated breast may be sore. Talk with your health care provider about using mild pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to ease breast tenderness.

The treated breast may also be rough to the touch, red , swollen and itchy. Sometimes the skin may peel, as if sunburned. Your provider may suggest special creams to ease this discomfort.

Sometimes the skin peels further and the area becomes tender and sensitive. This is called a moist reaction. Its most common in the skin folds and the underside of the breast.

If a moist reaction occurs, let your radiation team know. They can give you creams and pads to make the area more comfortable until it heals.

Fatigue is common during radiation therapy and may last for several weeks after treatment ends.

Fatigue is mainly a short-term problem, but for some, it can persist .

You may feel like you dont have any energy and may feel tired all of the time. Resting may not help.

Regular exercise, even just walking for 20 minutes every day, may help reduce fatigue . Getting a good nights sleep is also important.

Talk with your health care provider if you are fatigued or have problems sleeping .

Learn more about fatigue and insomnia.

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About Shortness Of Breath

Shortness of breath happens when you are not taking in enough oxygen and your lungs try to draw in more air to make up for it. ;

Difficulty breathing is called dyspnoea .

Between 5 and 7 out of every 10 cancer patients have this symptom at some time during their illness. This figure rises to 9 out of 10 for people who have advanced lung cancer.

How You Feel Emotionally

Being diagnosed with cancer can be hard to accept. Youre likely to go through a range of emotions before, during and after your treatment. This is very normal.

You might have a lot of worries, some of these might include:

  • will my treatment work?
  • will I be able to deal with side effects?
  • how will my family and friends cope?
  • will I have enough support?
  • will I be able to keep working?
  • how will I get to the hospital for my treatment?
  • will the treatment be painful?
  • what if I lose my hair?

All these worries can make you feel anxious or down.;Anxiety;and;depression;are common in people with cancer. Theyre often very draining emotions.

Fatigue can be worse if you are taking a combination of these drugs.

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What Is Secondary Breast Cancer In The Lung

Secondary breast cancer in the lung happens when breast cancer cells spread to the lung. It can also be known as lung metastases or secondaries in the lung.

Secondary breast cancer in the lung is not the same as cancer that started in the lung.

Usually secondary breast cancer occurs months or years after primary breast cancer. But sometimes its found at the same time as the primary breast cancer, or before the primary breast cancer has been diagnosed.; In this situation, the breast cancer has already spread to the other parts of the body such as the;lung. This is referred to as de novo metastatic breast cancer, meaning the breast cancer is metastatic from the start.

Swollen Or Discolored Breast

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Breast swelling can be normal. Many womens breasts swell before their periods or during pregnancy. However, if you have unusual or new swelling, talk to your doctor. Rapid swelling or discoloration may be signs of inflammatory breast cancer.

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare type of advanced breast cancer that develops quickly. Breast infections can also have very similar symptoms. Its important to see your doctor if you see skin changes or other changes in your breast.

Abdominal bloating is a common menstrual symptom. Some food sensitivities can also make you feel bloated for a day or two. However, abdominal bloating that lasts more than a week can be an early sign of ovarian cancer.

Other ovarian cancer symptoms include:

  • feeling full quickly after eating
  • difficulty eating
  • a frequent need to urinate
  • a persistent lack of energy
  • postmenopausal bleeding
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge in premenopausal women

These symptoms are easy to overlook. Many cases of ovarian cancer arent identified until later stages. Talk your gynecologist if you have unusual or persistent bloating.

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What The Patient Can Do

  • Stay calm.
  • Sit up or raise your upper body to a 45° angle by raising the bed or using pillows.
  • Take medicine or treatments prescribed for breathing .
  • If youre not in a lot of distress, check your temperature and pulse.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through pursed lips for twice as long as it took to inhale.
  • If youre still not breathing easier after 5 minutes, sit up on the side of the bed, with your feet resting on a stool, arms resting on an overbed table or side table with pillows on it, and your head tilted slightly forward.
  • If youre coughing and spitting, note the amount of sputum and what it looks and smells like.
  • Tell your cancer care team how your breathing problem affects you, especially if you avoid some of your usual activities to keep from getting out of breath.
  • Try muscle relaxation to reduce anxiety. Anxiety makes breathing problems worse.
  • If you keep having trouble breathing, ask about medicines that might help.


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