What Happens After The Local Breast Cancer Treatment
Following local breast cancer treatment, the treatment team will determine the likelihood that the cancer will recur outside the breast. This team usually includes a medical oncologist, a specialist trained in using medicines to treat breast cancer. The medical oncologist, who works with the surgeon, may advise the use of the drugs like tamoxifen or anastrozole or possibly chemotherapy. These treatments are used in addition to, but not in place of, local breast cancer treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy.
After treatment for breast cancer, it is especially important for a woman to continue to do a monthly breast examination. Regular examinations will help you detect local recurrences. Early signs of recurrence can be noted in the incision area itself, the opposite breast, the axilla , or supraclavicular region .
Maintaining your follow-up schedule with your physician is also necessary so problems can be detected when treatment can be most effective. Your health care provider will also be able to answer any questions you may have about breast self-examination after the following procedures.
Stage Of Breast Cancer
When your breast cancer is diagnosed, the doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as Stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer .
- Stage 1 the tumour measures less than 2cm and the lymph nodes in the armpit aren’t affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 2 the tumour measures 2-5cm or the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 3 the tumour measures 2-5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues. The lymph nodes in the armpit are affected. However, there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 4 the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body .
This is a simplified guide. Each stage is divided into further categories: A, B and C. If you’re not sure what stage you have, ask your doctor.
When To See A Health Care Provider About Changes To The Skin Of The Breast
Even though breast skin changes usually dont mean anything serious, it’s important to know when you might actually need medical attention.
If wearing more breathable fabrics avoiding soaps and detergents that cause skin sensitivity and keeping your breasts clean and dry doesnt seem to help with the skin changes youre seeing, or if you notice your symptoms worsening, be sure to check in with a health care provider. And be sure to visit a health care provider if you notice any of these accompanying symptoms:
You May Like: What Does Malignant Neoplasm Of Breast Mean
How Much Do Anastrozole And Exemestane Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that both anastrozole and exemestane can lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of the disease.
In one large study, taking anastrozole for five years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 53 percent. In another study, taking exemestane for three years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 65 percent.
The most common side effects seen with anastrazole and exemestane are joint pains, decreased bone density, and symptoms of menopause .
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2018.
Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women.
The most common signs are:
- A change in the look or feel of the breast OR
- A change in the look or feel of the nipple OR
- Nipple discharge
If you have any of the warning signs described below, see a health care provider .
If you dont have a provider, one of the best ways to find a good one is to get a referral from a trusted family member or friend.
If thats not an option, call your health department, a clinic or a nearby hospital. If you have insurance, your insurance company may also have a list of providers in your area.
Learn more about finding a health care provider.
In most cases, these changes are not cancer.
One example is breast pain. Pain is more common with benign breast conditions than with breast cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to get it checked.
If the change turns out to be breast cancer, its best to find it at an early stage, when the chances of survival are highest.
You May Like: Breast Cancer Symptom Checker
Ovarian Ablation Or Suppression
In women who haven’t experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries. Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.
Ablation can be carried out using surgery or radiotherapy. It stops the ovaries working permanently and means you’ll experience the menopause early.
Ovarian suppression involves using a medication called goserelin, which is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist . Your periods will stop while you’re taking it, although they should start again once your treatment is complete.
If you’re approaching the menopause , your periods may not start again after you stop taking goserelin.
Goserelin is taken as an injection once a month and can cause menopausal side effects, including:
- hot flushes and sweats
- Breast Cancer Now: Hormone therapy
What Does Cancer Fatigue Feel Like
The fatigue felt by people with cancer is different from the fatigue of daily life and different from the tired feeling people might remember having before they had cancer. People with cancer might describe it as feeling very weak, listless, drained, or washed out that may decrease for a while but then comes back.
You May Like: How Long Does Chemo Last For Breast Cancer
What Is The Cause Of Breast Cancer In Female
Most cases of breast cancer do not run in families, but genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase your risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer. Its possible for these genes to be passed on from a parent to their child. The genes TP53 and CHEK2, are also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Relationships With Friends And Family
It’s not always easy to talk about cancer, either for you or your family and friends. You may sense that some people feel awkward around you or avoid you.
Being open about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help may put them at ease. However, don’t be afraid to tell them that you need some time to yourself, if that’s what you need.
Want to know more?
- Healthtalkonline: How breast cancer affects families
Also Check: Symptoms Of Stage 3 Breast Cancer
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 easily 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.
Ever Wonder How Long It Takes Cancer To Begin Causing Symptoms
Or how long a person can have cancer without knowing of its existence?
Now that really is a scary thought: That somewhere in your body there could be cancer growing that will start causing symptoms three years from now.
When someone begins developing symptoms that turn out to be cancer, one has to wonder how long the tumor was present before the signs began appearing.
Cancer is not an infection its presence does not appear overnight.
Perhaps the cancer that can stay under the radar for the longest is basal cell carcinoma.
Its super slow-growing and easily mimics several benign skin conditions.
Unless in a very advanced stage, it does not cause symptoms that the patient can feel.
But overall, as an average, how long can a person have cancerous cells proliferating somewhere in their body before feeling the symptoms?
Typically one would have cancer for several years before manifesting with consistent symptoms that prompt a clinical evaluation, says Mark Levandovsky, MD, Founder and Medical Director of Preventive Medicine and Cancer Care.
Dr. Levandovsky is a board certified internist and oncologist/hematologist in practice for 20 years.
However, the impact of genetic predisposition can radically change that. For that reason appropriate risk stratification and modification of exposure/lifestyle risk factors is paramount.
When a person first notices the symptoms of cancer is not the same as how much time passes between symptom onset and diagnosis.
Also Check: Does Getting Hit In The Breast Cause Cancer
How Much Do Tamoxifen And Raloxifene Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Multiple studies have shown that both tamoxifen and raloxifene can reduce the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in healthy postmenopausal women who are at high risk of developing the disease. Tamoxifen lowered the risk by 50 percent. Raloxifene lowered the risk by 38 percent. Overall, the combined results of these studies showed that taking tamoxifen or raloxifene daily for five years reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by at least one-third. In one trial directly comparing tamoxifen with raloxifene, raloxifene was found to be slightly less effective than tamoxifen for preventing breast cancer.
Both tamoxifen and raloxifene have been approved for use to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. Tamoxifen is approved for use in both premenopausal women and postmenopausal women . Raloxifene is approved for use only in postmenopausal women.
Less common but more serious side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include blood clots to the lungs or legs. Other serious side effects of tamoxifen are an increased risk for cataracts and endometrial cancers. Other common, less serious shared side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
How Do Tamoxifen Raloxifene Anastrozole And Exemestane Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer
If you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, four medications tamoxifen , raloxifene , anastrozole , and exemestane may help reduce your risk of developing this disease. These medications act only to reduce the risk of a specific type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for about two-thirds of all breast cancers.
Tamoxifen and raloxifene are in a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators . These drugs work by blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue by attaching to estrogen receptors in breast cells. Because SERMs bind to receptors, estrogen is blocked from binding. Estrogen is the fuel that makes most breast cancer cells grow. Blocking estrogen prevents estrogen from triggering the development of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.
Anastrozole and exemestane are in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors . These drugs work by blocking the production of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors do this by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase, which is needed to make estrogen.
Recommended Reading: Estrogen Dependent Breast Cancer
Types Of Breast Cancer
There are several different types of breast cancer, which develop in different parts of the breast.
Breast cancer is often divided into either:
- non-invasive breast cancer found in the ducts of the breast which has not spread into the breast tissue surrounding the ducts. Non-invasive breast cancer is usually found during a mammogram and rarely shows as a breast lump.
- invasive breast cancer where the cancer cells have spread through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
Other, less common types of breast cancer include:
- invasive lobular breast cancer
- inflammatory breast cancer
It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the blood or the axillary lymph nodes. These are small lymphatic glands that filter bacteria and cells from the mammary gland.
If this happens, it’s known as secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer.
Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
- Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
- Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
- A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
- Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
- Changes in your nipple, like one that:
- Pulls inward
- Develops sores
Read Also: Pt1c Breast Cancer
What Other Conditions Can Cause Nipple Changes
Some women naturally have inverted nipples. If your nipples were always inverted, theres no need to worry, but if theyve recently retracted, call your doctor.
An infection of the mammary ducts called mammary duct ectasia can also change your nipple orientation. This condition commonly affects women over age 50.
A milky nipple discharge is perfectly normal if youve recently given birth or if youre breastfeeding.
Even if youre not pregnant or nursing, nipple discharge is of a benign condition, such as:
- an underactive thyroid gland
- sores that dont heal
- change in skin color
- visible veins in the breast, which can be a sign of increased blood flow to the cancer
Skin changes arent necessarily cancer, but they can sometimes warn of a rare type of breast cancer, like Paget disease or inflammatory breast cancer. Let your doctor know if your skin doesnt go back to its normal appearance within a few days.
A few other skin conditions can affect your breasts, including:
- skin infections
Skin changes such as rashes and skin infections should clear up within a few days. If they dont go away, have your doctor take a look.
How Is Breast Cancer Treated
If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.
The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.
Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.
You May Like: Breast Pain During Chemo
Tests At The Breast Cancer Clinic
If you have suspected breast cancer you’ll be referred to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This referral will be because of your symptoms or because your mammogram has shown an abnormality,
Mammogram and breast ultrasound
If you have symptoms and have been referred to a specialist breast unit by your GP, you’ll probably be invited to have a mammogram if you are over 35 years old. This is an X-ray of your breasts. You may also need an ultrasound scan.
If your cancer was detected through the BreastCheck screening programme, you may need another mammogram or ultrasound scan.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breasts. It helps to determine the nature of a lump or of the abnormality. It may be needed to find out if a lump in your breast is solid or contains liquid.
Your breasts are made up of thousands of tiny glands that produce milk. This glandular tissue contains a higher concentration of breast cells than other breast tissue, making it denser.
Dense breast tissue can make a mammogram difficult to read. Lumps or areas of abnormal tissue are harder to spot.
Younger women tend to have denser breasts. This is why mammography is not routinely performed in women under 35 years. As you get older, the amount of glandular tissue in your breasts decreases and is replaced by fat. This means your breasts become less dense.
Tests To Diagnose Metastatic Breast Cancer
If you have any of the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:
- blood tests
- whole-body bone scan, with or without X-rays of specific bones
- MRI of the spine or brain
- CT scan of the chest, abdomen, pelvis, and/or brain
- PET scan
- X-ray or ultrasound of the abdomen or chest
- bronchoscopy if you have a constant cough or trouble breathing
- biopsy of any suspicious area
- a “tap,” removal of fluid from the area with symptoms to check for cancer cells a pleural tap removes fluid between the lung and chest wall and a spinal tap removes fluid from around the spinal cord
You can read the following pages for information on symptoms of breast cancer metastasis and diagnosis:
Also Check: Triple Positive Breast Cancer Stage 4