Support For Living With Secondary Breast Cancer
Everyones experience of being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer is different, and people cope in their own way.
For many people, uncertainty can be the hardest part of living with secondary breast cancer.
You may find it helpful to talk to someone else whos had a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.
- Chat to other people living with secondary breast cancer on our online Forum.
- Meet other women with a secondary diagnosis and get information and support at a Living with Secondary Breast Cancer meet-up.
- Live Chat is a weekly private chat room where you can talk about whatevers on your mind.
You can also call Breast Cancer Nows Helpline free on 0808 800 6000.
Image credit: graphic adapted from: Sersa et al.Electrochemotherapy in treatment of tumours. European Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2008. 34: 232240. Adapted by permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license:creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0.
Treating Pagets Disease Of The Nipple
Pagets disease of the nipple is often associated with other forms of breast cancer.
It’s usually treated in the same way as more common types of breast cancer, either by removing the cancerous section of the breast or sometimes by removing the entire breast a procedure known as a mastectomy .
You can discuss any concerns you have with your oncologist who will be able to explain each phase of your treatment.
Breast Cancer Treatment And Rashes
People who are having treatment for breast cancer may develop rashes as a result of their treatment. Some forms of breast cancer medication, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation can cause rashes, but they are unlikely to affect only the breast.
Before starting any treatment, a person should talk with a doctor about possible side effects, including breast rashes.
The skin on the breast is prone to many common and relatively harmless rashes. Some common, noncancerous causes of rashes on the breast and other areas of the body include:
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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
Questions To Ask Your Health Care Provider About Your Pain
- What can be done to relieve my pain?
- If my pain doesnt go away, can I take more of the pain medication?
- What can we do if the pain medications dont work?
- How long does the pain medication take to start working? How long does it last?
- What side effects may occur with the pain medications? What can be done to prevent or manage these side effects? What side effects should I report to you?
- Will I become addicted to the pain medication?
- What other options do I have for pain control?
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Mortality Rates And The Good News
In the past, IBC has a poor survival rate. Indeed, the 5-year overall survival rate was less than 5% with a median rate of just 15 months. One of the reasons for the low survival rate is that IBC is often at a late stage at the diagnosis.
Sadly, IBC has often already spread to the lymph nodes on diagnosis.
However, according to a more recent research study, over the last 30 years survival rates for IBC have improved significantly. The 15 year survival rate is now around 20% to 30%.
Specialists believe that the improvement in survival rates for breast cancer is due to changes in treatment.
These changes include:-
- Preoperative chemotherapy surgery
- Radiation treatment.
- An improvement in the understanding of IBC on a molecular level over the last ten years.
In addition, a 2015 study compares survival trends of women with inflammatory breast cancer before and after the year 2006. The 3-year survival rate for those treated for IBC before October 2006 was around 63%. In comparison, for cases of IBC after 2006 the 3-year survival rate has risen to 82%.
The above statistics, are again, a testimony to the improvement in targeted treatment, in this case, particularly HER-2 therapy.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Ethnic Groups And New Research
Similarly to other breast cancers, the incidence rate of inflammatory breast cancer varies according to ethnic groups in the United States.
The rate of IBC is around 1.3 per 100,000 across all groups of women. However, African American women have a higher risk of 1.6 per 100,000. Asian and Pacific Islanders have the lowest risk of IBC at 0.7 per 100,000. Scientists still do not fully understand the differences in risk for breast cancer between different countries.
Furthermore, a diagnosis of IBC tends to be at a younger age than other breast cancers. The average age at diagnosis of IBC is the mid to late50s. Most women are post-menopausal at diagnosis. Interestingly, a high Body Mass Index is thought to significantly increase the odds of developing IBC.
The latest research is investigating the mammary tumor virus as a potential risk factor for Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
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What Happens When The Mammogram Shows Enlarged Lymph Nodes
If a mammogram shows that your lymph nodes look large and theres not an obvious explanation for the change, the radiologist is likely to consider this an abnormal finding. That means you get a call-back: a request to return for further breast imaging such as ultrasound.
Mullen stresses that when it comes to following up on abnormal mammogram results, the patients health is the priority, and its better to be safe than sorry. At the same time, she acknowledges that getting a call-back can cause a patient anxiety, confusion and inconvenience.
And its not just one follow-up. At the return appointment, we perform an ultrasound of the underarm, get a medical history and measure the lymph nodes, Mullen says. After that, the patient needs to follow up with another ultrasound in three months so we can make sure the nodes return to normal size.
Abnormal-appearing lymph nodes on a mammogram can set off a chain of testing that is expensive and anxiety-producing.
She says that extra call-backs due to temporary effects of the COVID-19 vaccines can affect patient scheduling at mammogram clinics. When patients require two follow-ups or a biopsy to ensure their lymph nodes are OK, it can make it tougher for other patients to get timely appointments.
Mullen says that many who are first in line to get COVID-19 vaccinations older women, health care workers, teachers and others are over age 40 and therefore recommended for yearly screening mammograms.
Increased Risk Of Varicella
- Yo-Liang Lai,
Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Validation, Visualization, Writing original draft, Writing review & editing
Affiliations Department of Radiation Oncology, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan
Roles Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Software, Validation, Visualization, Writing original draft, Writing review & editing
Affiliation Management Office for Health Data, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan
- Chia-Hung Kao,
Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Resources, Validation, Visualization, Writing original draft, Writing review & editing
Affiliations Department of Nuclear Medicine and PET Center, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Science, College of Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan, Department of Bioinformatics and Medical Engineering, Asia University, Taichung, Taiwan
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Eczema Psoriasis Or Other Common Skin Conditions And Rashes
You know allllll of those common rashes you’ve heard of before ? They don’t spare the breast area, confirms Dr. Kassouf. “Most of the common rashes will occur on both breasts as well as other areas of the skin,” she says. So: If you notice a rash that’s on your chest and other places of your body, touch base with your dermatologist.
Why Does Shingles Develop Under The Breast
Shingles can develop under the breast because of reactivation of the chicken pox virus from nerves around this area. Typically, the rash will appear on the torso and wrap around the body in a ribbon-like way. In some cases, the rash can be on the breasts and affect the areola, the area around the nipples.
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Diagnosis Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer Can Be Inconclusive At First
The cause of the appearance of the breast in IBC is the invasion of the skin lymphatics by breast cancer cells. The obstructed lymph vessels are responsible for producing the characteristic skin changes that can mimic a benign inflammatory process.
Standard diagnostic tests for breast cancer screening include:-
- MRI scans
However, diagnosis can be very difficult for IBC and even the above diagnostic tests do not always diagnose IBC.
Avoid The Pain Of Shingles
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, May 2012
Juanita is 81 years old and lives with her husband in California.
My biggest gift to anyone is to spare them the shingles. I want people to know just how serious this can be, no matter the cost of the shot, if I had only known. I had the shingles you might say mildly about 10 years before this, that time on my stomach. I just didnt think I would get them again. No lasting effects.
This last time 4 years ago I knew this was different. The pain would start in my upper arm, travel to my wrist and up the other side of my arm. That pain was horrible. You could see the skin wrinkle up as it traveled. It moved very fast, there was nothing I could do to stop it. For someone who told the Doctor I wouldnt need pain killer drugs as I didnt want to get hooked, well I actually had to go on morphine when the traveling pain was shooting up and down. That part of the shingles has not returned I am happy to report.
Hot weather, cold weather, cooking in the kitchen by the time dinner is on the table I just want to sit for a while. I have found clothing can really be an enemy and times like that I dont always get the connection right away, so the whole day is bad. My underarm feels like raw meat if I get too warm. Taking a shower has not been fun because the water hits and hurts, not so bad now as in the beginning, but sometimes it takes courage to hop in. Sleeping is not a problem because I am laying quiet and not moving my arm.
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Shingles More Likely To Develop In People With Cancer
But new vaccines hold promise for prevention.
Nearly one in three people in the United States will develop shingles, or herpes zoster, in their lifetime. Now, a new study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases reveals that people with cancer are at greater risk of developing this painful condition, reports the Infectious Disease Society of America .
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
The large prospective study examined the risk of shingles before and after a cancer diagnosis and across a range of cancer types among more than 240,000 adults in Australia between 2006 and 2015.
A cancer diagnosis of any kind was linked to a nearly 40 percent increase in risk for shingles compared with the risk of someone without cancer. Whats more, people who had a blood-related cancer diagnosis were three times more likely to develop shingles than those without the disease.
The risk for shingles was 30 percent higher in those with solid organ cancers, such as cancer located in the lung, breast, prostate or other organ, compared with someone without cancer.
Researchers also found that increases in zoster risk for people with blood cancer was apparent two years before diagnosis. But a higher risk of developing shingles for those with solid tumors was largely associated with chemotherapy treatment following diagnosis.
In 2017, a new vaccine for shingles was approved for use in the United States.
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Symptoms Of Pagets Disease Of The Nipple
Pagets disease of the nipple is a rare form of breast cancer. It can occur in both women and men, but most cases occur in women. Most people who are diagnosed with Pagets disease of the nipple have tumours in the same breast that are either ductal carcinoma in situ or invasive breast cancer.
The symptoms of Pagets disease of the nipple can be mistaken for some other noncancerous skin conditions, such as dermatitis or eczema. The main symptom of Pagets disease of the nipple is a change in the nipple and/or the areola .
Symptoms of Pagets disease of the nipple may include:
- Flaky, scaly or crusty skin on or around the nipple.
- Itching or redness in the nipple and/or areola
- A flat or inverted nipple
- Discharge or bleeding from the nipple
- There may be a lump in the same breast
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Management And Treatment Options For Inflammatory Cancer Of The Breast
For some women with IBC, the initial investigations to find a diagnosis may not confirm a benign or a malignant condition.
So, a patient may be given conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics. Monitoring of the response to antibiotic therapy is very important if symptoms do not improve further investigations will be necessary.
Sometimes, a large excisional breast biopsy is needed to really figure out what is going on.
Inflammatory breast cancer cells tend to grow widely through the tissues of the breast, rather than as a single tumour. For this reason, chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy are often given before surgery.
What Makes Shingles Go Away
The shingles rash usually goes away on its own. Several antiviral medicines, including Zovirax , Valtrex , and Famvir , can be used to treat shingles and shorten the length and severity of the illness. In the meantime, people with the rash can treat the symptoms to ease the discomfort. The life cycle of a shingles rash is about a month.
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How Is Shingles Treated
Treatment is most effective when initiated within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash. Antiviral drugs can help recover faster and reduce the risk of complications.
Shingles rash and blisters can cause severe pain and may not reduce with over-the-counter pain medication. Treatment of pain includes:
- Antiseizure medicines
- Medicated lotions to reduce pain and itching
- Numbing creams
- Over-the-counter pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Prescription painkillers such as codeine for intense pain
How Is Electrochemotherapy Given
Many people need only a single treatment of electrochemotherapy, although it can be repeated in the same area or used to treat a different area.
Treatment is usually carried out as an outpatient or day case, though some people may need to stay in hospital overnight. This depends on how much treatment is needed and your general health.
It can be given under general anaesthetic or sometimes local anaesthetic, depending on the size of the area or how many areas need to be treated. You may be given pain relief beforehand.
The chemotherapy is usually given into a vein . It can also be given by injection directly into the area of cancer being treated .
Bleomycin is the chemotherapy drug most commonly used. Cisplatin, another chemotherapy drug, may also be used.
A short time after the chemotherapy drug is given, electrical impulses are given directly to the area using an electrode with the help of a specially designed needle probe. The electrode may be applied a number of times to make sure the whole area is treated. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes depending on the size of the area.
Afterwards, the area will often be covered with a dressing that may need changing regularly. The treated areas will usually scab over. Often the areas look worse before any improvement is seen.
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer: The Diagnosis
So, frequently in the diagnosis of IBC a PET scan is utilized.
Furthermore, larger sample excisional biopsies are often necessary. A skin biopsy can find evidence of invasive breast cancer cells, but this is not always the case.
Inflammatory breast cancer has a tendency to grow in layers, so it may be quite a while before a palpable lump actually appears. Furthermore, if a lump develops it might appear quite suddenly.
Around 30% of inflammatory breast cancers never develop an actual breast lump.
Recent studies have pointed to the potential advantages of new diagnostic techniques, such as fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography .
Other Conditions That May Cause A Rash Under The Breast
Other conditions may cause a rash under the breast. These may have symptoms that distinguish it from shingles. For example:
You cant get shingles unless youve already had chickenpox.
Anyone who has had chickenpox, either as a child or adult, can get shingles.
The varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox doesnt leave the body, even after the illness resolves. Instead, it lodges in the nerve endings located near the spine and brain. Shingles occurs when the varicella-zoster virus becomes reactivated. The triggers for reactivation are not completely understood.
Most people whove had chickenpox will not get shingles. Some people have additional risk factors which put them at increased risk. Others may get shingles, even though they do not have additional risk factors.
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