Statistics On Breast Cancer & Pain
A breast tumora hard clump of breast cancer cellsusually doesn’t usually cause breast pain unless it reaches the size of two centimeters in diameter or greater. But a tumor can be larger than two centimeters and still not cause pain.
In fact,only about 5% to 15% of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer complain of breast pain. Only 7% of those diagnosed with breast cancer seek a doctor because of breast pain, excluding other symptoms.
What Do You Feel When You Have Breast Cancer
It is possible for breast cancer to be present without a woman being able to feel anything, either by physical examination or by a sensation of pain.
In performing breast self examination, you are looking for any thickening or lumpy mass in your breast or underarm tissue, a warmer than usual area, or skin abnormality such as scaliness. Report anything not usual for you, and particularly any hard lumps. Certain types of cancers or those in certain positions may not be felt at all, so it is important to still have yearly doctor checkups and regular mammograms if you are over the age of 40 or at high risk. Before this age, have three-yearly examinations by a doctor. In addition, there are visual indicators to look for. See the Web Links to the left for more information on breast self- examination.
Regarding other aspects of what Breast cancer feels like, pain is generally not a major factor in the early stages of the illness. It is only later that it usually becomes an issue, when it spreads to the bones or other organs.
When You Are First Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a life-threatening disease that requires rigorous treatment. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you, your family, and friends will be experiencing waves of emotion .
Just as your diagnosis may differ from those of other people with breast cancer, your emotional experience may also differ. Knowing what other survivors have experienced and getting help early in the process can be helpful in navigating your way through this experience.
You may not have all of these emotions, but it’s normal to have a range of emotions as you progress through treatment. Here are some emotional states that are similar to Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief:
- Denial and shock
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Myth #: Metastatic Breast Cancer Is A Single Type Of Cancer That Will Be Treated The Same Way For Every Person
The label metastatic contributes to the myth that it is one kind of breast cancer. But like earlier-stage breast cancers, stage IV cancers can have different characteristics that will guide treatment choices. They can test positive or negative for hormone receptors and/or an abnormal HER2 gene the gene that causes the cells to make too many copies of HER2 proteins that can fuel cancer growth. These test results guide treatment choices.
For triple-negative stage IV cancers meaning they test negative for hormone receptors and an abnormal HER2 gene testing for PD-L1 is becoming more common. PD-L1 is a checkpoint protein found on the surface of healthy cells that prevents the bodys immune system T-cells from attacking them. Some breast cancer cells also have large amounts of PD-L1 on their surfaces, which helps shield them from the bodys immune response. Newer immunotherapies are being used to treat PD-L1-positive MBC.
Furthermore, treatment choices can depend on a persons age, overall health, and whether there are other medical conditions present.
The bottom line? Treatments vary. DivineMrsM of Ohio says it well: There is the misconception that there is one standardized treatment for every case of MBC, like a one size fits all. But there are different approaches and it cant always be said that one approach is better than another. Most people dont realize different subcategories of this disease.
Myth #: The Mental And Emotional Experience Of People With Mbc Is The Same As That Of Earlier
People with MBC report hearing comments such as, At least you have a good type of cancer, Arent you glad so much research on breast cancer has been done?, Fortunately you have so many options. These might comfort people with early-stage breast cancer, who can look forward to one day finishing treatment and moving on but people with MBC dont have that luxury. They know they will be in treatment for the rest of their lives. They also know that their life is likely to be shorter than theyd planned.
Mentally and emotionally, people with MBC have a completely different experience. For them, the whole ringing the bell idea does not work, says Dr. Gupta. I have patients who are coming in once a week and have to plan their lives around their treatment. The whole pink brigade idea is very upsetting to them.
Fortunately, more and more people with MBC are speaking up and calling attention to how their experience differs from that of people with earlier-stage breast cancer. People with MBC live with cancer always in the background of their lives, but with new and emerging therapies, many are living longer and maintaining their quality of life.
Clearly, the experience of metastatic breast cancer is quite different from early-stage breast cancer. But there are so many patients who understand just what youre going through. Read more about Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer and join our discussion forum for people with stage IV/metastatic disease.
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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.
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 usually a sign 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.
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When To Call Your Doctor
Although cancer-related fatigue is a common side effect of cancer and its treatments, you should mention any of your concerns to your doctor. There are times when fatigue may be a clue to an underlying medical problem. Other times, there may be things your doctor can do to help control fatigue.
Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know if you have:
- Shortness of breath
- Side effects from treatments
- Anxiety or nervousness
Further Tests For Breast Cancer
If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.
If your cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you’ll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.
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Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are part of a system of tubes and glands in the body that filters body fluids and fights infection.
The most common symptom if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is that they feel hard or swollen. You might have any of the following symptoms if your cancer has spread to the lymph nodes:
- a lump or swelling under your armpit
- swelling in your arm or hand
- a lump or swelling in your breast bone or collar bone area
One of the first places breast cancer can spread to is the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side as the breast cancer. This is not a secondary cancer.
Do I Have Cancer Do Not Take Serious & Consult To Doctor
Cancer kills thousands of people yearly and only a few live to say they beat it. A lot of people have the fear that they may have the disease at some point in their life. Do you think you might have cancer? Try the quiz to get an idea but get checked by a doctor.
- How often do you feel sick?
- A.& nbsp
- Sample QuestionDo you often use electronics? Pick the one used most:TV
- Sample QuestionCommonly presents withFever,Bone pain,Lymphadenopathy ,Bleeding,Abnormal testicular enlargement, and/orMediastinal MassAML
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Changes To Your Breasts
Breast cancer usually starts in one breast. According to the American Cancer Society, the most common sign of breast cancer is a newly formed mass or lump in your breast.
The mass or lump is usually irregularly shaped and painless. However, some cancerous masses can be painful and round in shape. This is why any lump or mass ought to be screened for cancer.
Invasive ductal carcinoma causes lumps and bumps in the breasts. This is a type of breast cancer that forms inside the milk ducts.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. It makes up about 80 percent of all diagnoses. Its also more likely to spread to other areas of the body.
Invasive lobular carcinoma can cause breast thickening. This type of breast cancer starts in the glands that produce breast milk. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that up to 15 percent of all breast cancers are invasive lobular carcinomas.
You may notice your breasts have changed color or size. They may also be red or swollen from the cancerous tumor. While breast cancers themselves arent usually painful, the resulting swelling can cause breast pain. The cancer lumps may still be painful in some cases, though.
With breast cancer, your nipples may also undergo some noticeable changes.
How Does Cancer Cause Signs And Symptoms
When cancer grows, it can push on nearby organs, nerves, and blood vessels, which can cause signs and symptoms. Even the smallest tumors can cause symptoms in certain organs, such as the brain.
If your cancer spreads, or metastasizes, you may notice signs or symptoms in different parts of your body.
Another reason you may experience symptoms is that cancer cells use up a lot of your bodys energy supply. They also cause changes in how your immune system works.
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What Are The Signs That Breast Cancer Has Spread
Metastatic breast cancer is a secondary cancer the cancerous cells originate in breast tissue and then travel to other parts of the body. The most common areas of breast cancer metastasis are the bones, lungs and liver.
Following an initial breast cancer diagnosis, a patient will receive a personalized monitoring plan for metastatic reoccurrence from their care team. Depending on the specific parts of the body affected, the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can vary.
Questions To Ask The Doctor
- Do you know the stage of the cancer?
- If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
- Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
- Based on the stage of the cancer, how long do you think Ill live?
- Do you know if my cancer has any of these proteins: estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or the HER2 protein?
- What does it mean if my cancer has any of these proteins?
- What will happen next?
There are many ways to treat breast cancer.
Surgery and radiation are used to treat cancer in a specific part of the body . They do not affect the rest of the body.
Chemotherapy, hormone treatment, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy drugs go through the whole body. They can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body.
Doctors often use more than one treatment for breast cancer. The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:
- The cancer’s stage and grade
- If the cancer has specific proteins, like the HER2 protein or hormone receptors
- The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
- Your age
- Other health problems you have
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
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Symptoms Of Angiosarcoma Of The Breast
Another rare form of breast cancer, angiosarcoma forms inside the lymph and blood vessels. Only a biopsy may definitively diagnose this type of cancer. Angiosarcoma can cause changes to the skin of your breast, such as the development of purple-colored nodules that resemble a bruise. These nodules, if bumped or scratched, may bleed. Over time, these discolored areas may expand, making your skin appear swollen in that area. You may or may not have breast lumps with angiosarcoma. If you also have lymphedema, which is swelling caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid, angiosarcoma may occur in the affected arm. Cancer treatment sometimes damages the lymph vessels, which may lead to lymphedema.
Our Advice To Other Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer: Be Nice To Yourself
Give yourself a break! is the advice that Sendelbach offers. Stop negative self-talk about what you should have done but didnt do, she says. If you have MBC, you need to be kind and loving to yourself.
The body has only so much energy to offer per day, and managing metastatic breast cancer requires a lot of it. So it doesnt make sense to try to compare what youre able to do with what your cancer-free friends are accomplishing.
Just getting through the day can be hard, Sendelbach says. Getting rid of those not good enough feelings can lift a huge weight off you.
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In The Bones
Although metastatic breast cancer can potentially occur in any bone in the body, it most often affects the ribs, spine, pelvis and long bones in the arms and legs. Breast cancer that has spread to the bones may cause:
- Sudden bone pain, such as hip or back pain, which may feel similar to the discomfort associated with arthritis or exercise strain but is persistent or progressively worse even with rest or conservative measures
- An increased risk of bone fractures that result from minimal trauma, such as a minor fall
- An elevated level of calcium in the blood, which can lead to fatigue, nausea, dehydration and loss of appetite
- Numbness or muscle weakness in an arm or leg
Myth #: If Youre Diagnosed With Metastatic Breast Cancer You Did Something Wrong Or Didnt Get The Right Treatment The First Time
When some people hear stage IV breast cancer, they assume something must have been missed along the way to let the cancer get that far. There is a misconception that breast cancer always develops in orderly steps from stages I to II, III, and then IV and that theres plenty of time to catch it early. People with MBC can face misguided assumptions that they must have skipped mammograms or self-exams, or they didnt control risk factors such as not exercising enough, watching their weight, or eating healthy. But a person can do everything right and still get MBC. Although regular screenings increase the odds of diagnosing breast cancer at an earlier stage, they cant guarantee it.
Another major misconception: If youre diagnosed with metastatic cancer after being treated for an early-stage breast cancer, you must have chosen the wrong treatment regimen or it wasnt aggressive enough. But between 20% and 30% of people with an earlier-stage breast cancer will eventually go on to develop MBC and theres often no good explanation as to why. And it can happen to anyone. Treatments can reduce the risk of recurrence, but they cant eliminate it.
As Illimae of Houston notes: that a stage IV diagnosis equals negligence on the part of the patient. In my case, it had spread before I ever felt a lump. I felt it Saturday and saw my doc on Monday, I ignored nothing, sometimes it just happens that fast.
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