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.
Are There Different Types Of Fibroadenomas
There are two types of fibroadenomas: simple fibroadenomas and complex fibroadenomas.
The simple tumors dont increase breast cancer risk and look the same all over when viewed under a microscope.
Complex fibroadenomas can slightly increase your risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society states that women with complex fibroadenomas have approximately of developing breast cancer than women with no breast lumps.
The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca
At the Breast Cancer Centers at each of our CTCA® hospitals, located across the nation, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision. Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a registered oncology nurse, who helps track the various appointments, follow up on tests and answer questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with advanced training in helping patients restore function and appearance. Fertility preservation and genetic testing are also available for qualifying patients who need them.
Our pathologists and oncologists are experienced and trained in tools designed to diagnose, stage and treat different types of breast cancer, from early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ to complex diseases such as triple-negative and inflammatory breast cancer. As part of our patient-centered care model, which is designed to help you keep strong during treatment, your multidisciplinary care team may recommend various evidence-informed supportive therapies, such as naturopathic support, psychosocial support, nutritional support, physical and occupational therapy and pain management. The entire team works together with a whole-person focus, which is at the heart of our centers dedication to personalized and comprehensive care.
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What Is The Treatment For Breast Cancer Vs Cysts
Surgery is generally the first step after the diagnosis of breast cancer. The type of surgery is dependent upon the size and type of tumor and the patient’s health and preferences. The choice of procedures should be discussed with your health-care team as any approach has advantages and disadvantages.
Many women have treatment in addition to surgery, which may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormonal therapy. The decision about which additional treatments are needed is based upon the stage and type of cancer, the presence of hormone and/or HER2/neu receptors, and patient health and preferences.
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
Radiation therapy is used to kill tumor cells if there are any left after surgery.
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy consists of the administration of medications that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. In breast cancer, three different chemotherapy strategies may be used:
Hormonal Therapy for Breast Cancer
Does Breast Pain Indicate Breast Cancer
While breast pain can indicate breast cancer, it is not a common symptom of breast cancer. However, pain with other symptoms like nipple discharge, lumps, thickening of the skin, change in size or shape, or changes in texture or appearance of the skin should be evaluated by your primary care physician as they could indicate cancer or other, benign problems.
If you experience any of these symptoms, including breast pain, contact your primary care physician.
Of course, breast cancer doesnt always show symptoms. Its possible for a woman to have breast cancer without even knowing it. Thats why screening is so important in preventing breast cancer. The Breast Center recommends annual screening mammograms starting at age 40.
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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 .
What Does A Fibroadenoma Feel Like
Some fibroadenomas are so small they cant be felt. When youre able to feel one, its very distinct from the surrounding tissue. The edges are clearly defined and the tumors have a detectable shape.
Theyre moveable under the skin and typically not tender. These tumors often feel like marbles, but may have a rubbery feel to them.
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What Determines One’s Breast Cancer Risk
The chances that a particular breast lump could be cancerous depends on many factors, including a woman’s past medical history, her physical examination, and results of radiological tests . Some of the most important risk factors are outlined below.
Age is the biggest risk factor for breast cancer. In other words, most cases of breast cancer occur due to the fact that the risk of breast cancer increases with age. Most women with breast cancer do not have a history of breast cancer. A woman who has had a prior breast cancer or who has a family history of breast cancer is certainly at risk herself, especially if multiple family members are involved, the cases occurred at a young age, or if the cancer involved both breasts of a single family member.
Women who have received radiation therapy to the chest area as treatment for another cancer have a significantly increased risk for breast cancer.
About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases have been shown to be related to inherited gene changes . The most common mutations are those of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, although other genetic mutations may also lead to breast cancers.
Abnormal findings on previous breast biopsies
The finding of certain conditions on previous breast biopsies can also increase the risk for developing breast cancer. Pre-cancerous growths and growths noted on a breast biopsy that represent an increased risk for the development of breast cancer include the following:
When Should You See A Doctor For Breast Pain
While breast pain is common, and is normal in many cases, there are times when breast pain requires medical attention:
- Sudden breast pain
- Breast pain accompanied by other symptoms, such as nipple discharge
- Non-cyclical breast pain
- Breast pain that does not go away
- Breast pain that gets worse
- Debilitating breast pain
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Breast Cancer Types And Symptoms
There are several kinds of breast cancer. Many of them share symptoms.
Symptoms of ductal carcinoma
This is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in your ducts. About 1 in 5 new breast cancers are ductal carcinoma in situ . This means you have cancer in the cells that line your ducts, but it hasnât spread into nearby tissue.
You may not notice any symptoms of ductal carcinoma. It can also cause a breast lump or bloody discharge.
Symptoms of lobular carcinoma
This kind begins in the glands that make milk, called lobules. Itâs the second most common type of breast cancer. Symptoms include:
- Fullness, thickening, or swelling in one area
- Nipples that are flat or point inward
Symptoms of invasive breast cancer
Breast cancer thatâs spread from where it began into the tissues around it is called invasive or infiltrating. You may notice:
- A lump in your breast or armpit. You might not be able to move it separately from your skin or move it at all.
- One breast that looks different from the other
- A rash or skin thatâs thick, red, or dimpled like an orange
- Skin sores
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Muscle weakness
Symptoms of triple-negative breast cancer
Breast cancer is called triple-negative if it doesnât have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone and doesnât make a lot of a protein called HER2. This kind tends to grow and spread faster than other types, and doctors treat it differently.
Symptoms of male breast cancer
- A small, hard cyst
Myth : Doctors Can Tell If A Lump Is Cancer Just By Feeling It
Wrong. Neither you nor your healthcare provider no matter how good he or she is can tell whether a lump is cancer without diagnostic imaging.
Providers who say, Its probably OK, without investigating further may cause a delay in diagnosing breast cancer, Dr. Pederson says. Dont let your doctor guess. Get imaging.
Women age 30 and older will have a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. An ultrasound helps evaluate a mass by assessing whether it is solid or fluid-filled. Women under age 30 will have only an ultrasound because younger, denser breasts are difficult to evaluate by mammogram.
Suspicious lumps should be biopsied. Typically, a sample of tissue is drawn through a needle. Then the tissue is studied under a microscope.
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Sore Breasts Before Your Period
One symptom of premenstrual syndrome is the swelling and tenderness of the breasts. Pain can range in severity, though its usually on the lower end of the spectrum.
What causes it? During the hormonal changes cause by menstruation, oestrogen activates the breast ducts to enlarge and progesterone triggers the milk glands to swell . How can you ease breast pain before your period? If youre finding that over-the-counter painkillers arent working for this cyclical type of breast pain, you should see your GP for more options. Your doctor might recommend diuretics or oral contraceptives to help ease more severe pre-period breast pain.
What Causes Breast Pain
There are a number of harmless causes for breast pain and tenderness that may primarily be related to changes in hormone levels. These can include:
- Puberty in girls and sometimes for boys, too
- Menstruation and premenstrual syndrome
- Pregnancy more often during the first trimester
- Days following childbirth as milk comes in Breastfeeding Mastitis, which is caused by a milk duct that is not properly draining and becomes infected, should be treated. It has no correlation with cancer, but it can become a serious infection if left untreated.
- A benign cyst
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Breast Changes And Conditions
As you await follow-up test results, remember that most breast changes are not cancer.
You may have just received an abnormal mammogram result, or perhaps you or your health care provider found a breast lump or other breast change. Keep in mind that breast changes are very common, and most are not cancer. This page can help you learn about symptoms during your lifetime that are not cancer as well as follow-up tests used to diagnose breast conditions and treatments for specific breast conditions.
Possible Causes Of Painful Lump In Breast
1. Generalized Breast Lumpiness
Once known as fibrocystitis or fibrocystic disease of the breasts, it was eventually realized this condition is so common and it’s, in fact, considered normal. Characterized by many nodular lumps in the breasts or varying areas of thickness in certain areas of the breast, painful lump in the breast can also feel as though there are clusters of small bumps which are tender to touch. There is typically a tendency for this to flare up during the menstrual period or pregnancy and is considered completely normal. Hormone therapy will also exacerbate this condition. Though it can be chronic, it often abates after menopause. With consistent breast exams, you can assure that none of these lumps are cancerous, as they are often benign.
2. Cysts and Abscess Lumps
3. Fat Necrosis
Necrosis means “death of tissue,” so the connotation is generally not a favorable one. However, in this case it would be a potential cause of a painful breast lump. The fat cells in the breasts will become inflamed and altered to form into round lumps which are typically firm upon palpation. The necrosis will typically occur after a firm, bruising impact to the area or some other type of injury in the chest. It may take weeks for fat necrosis to form after an injury occurs.
5. Blood Clots
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How Is Breast Pain In Women Diagnosed
Your doctor will examine you, ask you to describe your pain, and the location of the pain. He or she may ask you about your health history. During the exam, your doctor will check to see if you have lumps in your breasts.
If youre younger than 30 and dont have a breast lump, your doctor might decide you dont need any tests. If youre older than 30 and dont have a breast lump, your doctor may still want you to get a mammogram and an ultrasound, if youre having pain in a specific area. If you do have a lump in your breast, your doctor might decide you need one or more of these tests:
- A mammogram.This is a special X-ray of the breasts.
- A breast ultrasound.This painless test uses sound waves to make a picture of the lump.
- A breast biopsy. For this test, some tissue is surgically removed from your breast and looked at under a microscope. The area that is removed is numbed to eliminate pain. Its an outpatient procedure.
First Stepcheck Your Heart
While your left breast pain is most likely due to something else, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether you could be having symptoms of a heart attack. Keep in mind that the symptoms of heart disease in women are often very different from those in men. Pain may be mild, feel like a burning pain, or may simply feel like breast pain. Due to the often vague and subtle symptoms, women are more likely to overlook the signs, and, as a result, die from a heart attack.
Everyone should be familiar with the symptoms of a heart attack, which may include:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Pain in your neck, jaw, or left arm
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or passing out
- A feeling that something just isn’t right or a sense of impending doom
If you’re uncertain about the origin of your pain and have any risk factors for heart disease, it’s better to be on the safe side and seek immediate medical attention.
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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.
You’re 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.
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