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Can Breast Cancer Hurt Your Back

New Lump In Breast Collar Or Underarm

3 Ways to Ditch Your Breast Cancer Back Pain using Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

The most well-known warning sign when it comes to breast cancer is a breast lump. A lump can occur in the breast itself, but may also appear in the collar region or underarm. Breast tissue extends from your collarbone to your underarm and rib cage. Lumps are often hard and painless with irregular edges, but some lumps may be painful or tender.

Most breast lumps are not caused by cancer, but if you find a lump, its important to have it looked at by a doctor. It is normal to have breast lumps before your period that go away. If you have a lump that does not disappear at the end of your period, you should alert your doctor.

Breast Cancer Symptoms: What You Need To Know

Finding breast cancer early usually makes it easier to treat. Along with getting regular screening mammograms, being aware of how your breasts look and feel is an important part of early detection. Some breast cancer signs are detected best by mammogram. Other signs may be more eaily seen as changes in how the breasts look or feel.

It is important to know that not all changes in the breasts are cancer. Benign breast conditions are much more common than breast cancer. But it is important to let your health care team know about any changes in your breast so they can be looked into.

Below are some common breast symptoms that should be checked right away.

Back Pain And Cancer: How Are They Related

Medically reviewed by and James A. Tulsky, MD

Back pain can occur for a variety of reasons not related to cancer, such as injury or arthritis in certain circumstances, back pain can be related to cancer. Though extremely uncommon, it may be a sign of certain cancers, a side effect of chemotherapy or other cancer therapies, a symptom of metastasis, or a latent side effect of treatment.

A primary bone cancer tumor in the spine can cause back pain, as can a number of cancers when they have metastasized, such as breast cancer, testicular cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer. In fact, back pain is often the first symptom that people with lung cancer notice before they are diagnosed around 25 percent of people with lung cancer list it as a symptom they experience at some point. A tumor in the lungs can put pressure on the spine, or can affect the nerves around the chest wall and spine.

Some people may not experience back pain prior to their diagnosis, but may deal with it during treatment. It is important to keep your treatment team updated on any pain you may experience. The pain may be related to the cancer itself and arise as a result of the disease spreading, or it may be a side effect of treatment. For example, Herceptin, a hormone therapy used to treat some breast cancers and gastric cancers, can cause back pain during or within hours of treatment, or a few days to weeks later.

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Arm/shoulder Problems Common After Breast Cancer Surgery

A study found that most women who had breast cancer surgery had some type of arm problem even 1 1/2 years after surgery. The research was presented at the 2008 American Society of Clinical Oncology Breast Cancer Symposium.

After breast cancer surgery, some women experience numbness, swelling, weakness, or tingling in the arm and shoulder area on the same side of the body on which surgery was done. These problems are more likely to happen after mastectomy surgery and less likely to happen after lumpectomy. The possibility for arm and shoulder problems depends quite a bit on whether any lymph nodes were removed during surgery and if so, how many were removed.

The researchers studied more 250 women for 18 months after breast cancer surgery. Every 3 months, the women reported any arm problems and had a physical exam to check for any movement or function problems. The researchers tested upper body strength and endurance, hand grip, flexibility, and range of motion.

The results:

  • Most women with arm problems had more than one symptom.
  • Yoga As Cause Of Severe Pain Under Breast When Lying Down

    What is the sacrum bone, how can back pain be a sign of ...

    It happened to me some time ago. I felt a slight but very odd tweak in what, in retrospect, seemed to have been between T-1 and T-5.

    The tweak was very close to the vertebral column and covered a tiny surface area. I felt it while standing and twisting to the right, but not to the left.

    I concluded it came from holding a yoga pose for half a minute. Below is the pose. yanalya

    I was new to yoga, so it didnt surprise me that this could be the cause.

    When I got into bed, I immediately felt a pain deep in my breast that Id never felt before. Lying on my side didnt help. It was terrible and disrupted my sleep. It was REALLY bad.

    It disappeared the moment I sat up every single time. It was completely gone once I left the bed next morning. Never felt it at any point during wakefulness.

    But come bedtime again, it returned the moment my head hit the pillow. The pain was just plain nasty, deep inside the breast or so it seemed, as I concluded it was clearly a radiating pain.

    If I shifted to the left or right, this tweaked the tiny area of back strain. I could tell, intuitively, that there was a connection between whatever had happened with my back, and what I was feeling within my breast.

    Third or fourth night, the pain inside my breast was pretty much gone and never returned.

    Used daily and over time, the Stand Corrected stretching tool can reverse back damage caused by years of poor posture.

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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.

    What Causes Pain In People With Cancer

    The cancer itself often causes pain. The amount of pain you have depends on different factors, including the type of cancer, its stage , other health problems you may have, and your pain threshold. People with advanced cancer are more likely to have pain.

    Cancer surgery, treatments, or tests can also cause pain. You may also have pain that has nothing to do with the cancer or its treatment. Like anyone, you can get headaches, muscle strains, and other aches or pains.

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    Getting Treatment For Terminal Cancer

    My cancer was estrogen-receptor positive, so I initially went on tamoxifen, a type of hormone therapy that can slow tumor growth in some breast cancers. Meanwhile, my body was put into medication-induced menopause to make me a candidate for future hormone therapy and chemotherapy treatments. I was on many different medications to stop my cancer from progressing, and for about two years it worked. Then it progressed.

    To try to get it under control, I endured different palliative surgeries and radiation, but these left me with more side effects. The tissue around my left breast where my tumor is became rock-hard and very painful. Radiation burns in my stomach prevent me from tolerating much fiber.

    Ive also experienced severe pain, as the cancer has since spread to my bones. At first I would transition back and forth between a wheelchair, walker, and on one occasion, a cane. Currently, with the correct pain medications, I rarely have to use a cane or chair, and I even walked 22 miles around Disney World last Februarysomething I would have said was impossible a year prior.

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    Now, I have scans every three months to check for progressions, and I go to my oncologist every month to do blood work. If I ever have any extra pain or other symptoms, sometimes my scans are moved up to double-check everything. I try to resist living in three-month increments I’ve actually planned a trip to Europe soon.

    How Lung Cancer And Back Pain Are Linked

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    When we think about back pain, usually the last thing that comes to mind is cancer. Instead, we associate it with things like physical trauma or a degenerative disease .

    While back pain caused by lung cancer shares commonalities with many of these disorders, it also has a distinct difference. Much of these relate to how and where the cancer causes pain, both directly and indirectly. Some of the possible ways in which lung cancer can produce back pain include:

    • The direct pressure a tumor can place on the structure of the back, more often than not, is in the mid to upper back rather than lower back.
    • A malignancy can irritate the nerves servicing the lining of the lungs and chest wall, triggering a sharp and sometimes chronic nerve pain.
    • Cancer spread from the lungs to the spine and bones is an occurrence shared by upwards of 30% of people with lung cancer.
    • Metastasis of cancer to the adrenal glands , can cause localized pain due to its location right above the kidney.

    At the current time, the majority of people who develop lung cancer are non-smokers , and lung cancer is increasing in young women and men who have never smoked.

    In fact, due to the location of the type of lung cancer most common in non-smokers, the typical symptoms most people associate with lung cancer are often absent. These tumors are also more likely than other kinds of lung cancer to spread to bones.

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    How Long Do Side Effects Last

    Remember that the type of radiation side effects you might have depends on the prescribed dose and schedule. Most side effects go away within a few months of ending treatment. Some side effects may continue after treatment ends because it takes time for the healthy cells to recover from radiation.

    Side effects might limit your ability to do some things. What you can do will depend on how you feel. Some patients are able to go to work or enjoy leisure activities while they get radiation therapy. Others find they need more rest than usual and cant do as much. If you have side effects that are bothersome and affecting your daily activities or health, the doctor may stop your treatments for a while, change the schedule, or change the type of treatment youre getting. Tell your cancer care team about any side affects you notice so they can help you with them.

    Changes In Nipple Appearance Or Sensitivity

    One of the most common locations for a breast cancer tumor is just beneath the nipple, and it may cause a change in the appearance and feel of the nipple itself. Some women may also experience a decrease in nipple sensitivity.

    Nipple discharge that starts suddenly should also be taken on a serious note, as it a warning sign of breast cancer. Nipple discharge can also be caused by an infection or any other health condition that requires immediate treatment. Therefore, if you have these changes, go and meet the doctor immediately.

    Nipple change is a direct give away for men with breast cancer

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    Types Of Spinal Tumors

    A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth of cells within the spinal column. These tumors may be cancerous or noncancerous . A cancerous tumor is composed of abnormal cells that continue to divide uncontrollably and have the potential to spread via the blood or lymphatic system.

    There are 2 general types of spinal tumors:

    • Primary tumors originate in the spinal column. While most primary tumors are noncancerous, some are cancerous.
    • Secondary tumors, also called metastatic tumors, have spread to the spine from another part of the body. Metastatic tumors are cancerous. About 90% of diagnosed spinal tumors are metastatic.1,2

    Metastatic spinal cord tumors develop when cancer cells from other parts of the body, such as the breast, kidney, or lung, migrate through the bloodstream and become lodged in the spine. Most metastatic spinal tumors occur in the thoracic spine.

    Spinal tumors can also be classified by whether they are outside the spinal cord , within the spinal cords protective covering , or within the spinal cord itself .

    When Back Pain Requires Emergent Treatment

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    In some people who have metastases to their spine, a condition called malignant spinal cord compression may develop. The symptoms include worsening back pain, weakness of the legs, and sometimes loss of urinary or bowel control. This is a medical emergency, and immediate treatment is needed to prevent complications such as paralysis.

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    Red Flaky Itchy Warm Or Thickened Skin

    Sometimes, red, flaky, itchy, warm, or thickened skin can be a sign of breast cancer. Thickened skin may begin to feel like an orange peel. The most common cause of these symptoms is mastitis. Mastitis is an infection that can occur while breastfeeding but is also a sign of breast cancer. If youre experiencing these symptoms and theyve lasted more than a week, you should talk to your doctor.

    If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Chest

    Radiation treatment to the chest may cause side effects such as:

    • Sore throat

    Radiation can also cause other problems in the heart or lungs.

    Heart complications

    Getting radiation to the middle portion of the chest can raise your risk of heart disease. This risk increases with higher radiation doses and larger treatment areas in this part of your body. Radiation can also cause hardening of the arteries , heart valve damage, or irregular heartbeats.

    Radiation pneumonitis

    Radiation pneumonitis is inflammation of the lungs that can be caused by radiation treatment to the chest . It may occur about 3 to 6 months after getting radiation therapy. Its more likely if you have other lung diseases, like emphysema . Common symptoms of radiation pneumonitis include:

    • Shortness of breath that usually gets worse with exercise
    • Chest pain, which is often worse when taking in a deep breath
    • Cough
    • Weakness

    Sometimes there are no symptoms, and radiation pneumonitis is found on a chest x-ray.

    Symptoms often go away on their own, but if treatment is needed, it is based on trying to decrease the inflammation. Steroids, like prednisone, are usually used. With treatment, most people recover without any lasting effects. But if it persists, it can lead to pulmonary fibrosis . When this happens, the lungs can no longer fully inflate and take in air.

    Be sure you understand what to look for, and tell your cancer care team if you notice any of these side effects.

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    Newly Diagnosed Or Worried About A Symptom

    In the days or weeks after a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer, you may feel in turmoil and find it hard to think clearly.

    You can read our information for people newly diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, including where to find support.

    If you havent been diagnosed but are worried about a symptom, find out more about the signs and symptoms of secondary breast cancer.

    Back to top

    If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Brain

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    People with brain tumors often get stereotactic radiosurgery if the cancer is in only one or a few sites in the brain. Side effects depend on where the radiation is aimed. Some side effects might show up quickly, but others might not show up until 1 to 2 years after treatment. Talk with your radiation oncologist about what to watch for and when to call your doctor.

    If the cancer is in many areas, sometimes the whole brain is treated with radiation. The side effects of whole brain radiation therapy may not be noticeable until a few weeks after treatment begins.

    Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects:

    • Headaches
    • Trouble with memory and speech
    • Seizures

    Some of these side effects can happen because radiation has caused the brain to swell. Medicines are usually given to prevent brain swelling, but its important to let your cancer care team know about headaches or any other symptoms. Treatment can affect each person differently, and you may not have these particular side effects.

    Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. These delayed effects can include serious problems such as memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, and poor brain function. You may also have an increased risk of having another tumor in the area, although this is not common.

    Talk with your cancer care team about what to expect from your specific treatment plan.

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    Diet And Lifestyle Changes


    Your GP may suggest some things you can try which might help reduce pain, but theres limited evidence to show these work. These include:

    • eating a low-fat diet
    • increasing the amount of fibre you eat
    • reducing caffeine and alcohol

    Well-fitting bra

    Wearing a supportive and well-fitting bra during the day, during any physical activity and at night can be helpful.

    Relaxation and complementary therapies

    Some women have found relaxation therapy useful in reducing their symptoms of cyclical breast pain, such as relaxation CDs or apps, or other complementary therapies such as acupuncture and aromatherapy.


    If your pain started when you began taking a contraceptive pill, changing to a different pill may help. If the pain continues, you may want to try a non-hormone method of contraception such as condoms, a non-hormonal coil or a cap .


    If your pain started or increased while taking HRT and doesnt settle after a short time, tell your GP.

    Evening primrose or starflower oil

    Theres evidence that having low levels of an essential fatty acid called GLA can contribute to cyclical breast pain. However, research has shown that taking additional GLA doesnt always help the pain. Despite this, your GP may suggest that you try evening primrose or starflower oil , as some women have found it helps them to feel better generally. Your GP will tell you how much to take and for how long.


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