Pain Related To Lymphedema
Pain from lymphedema can be relieved through treatment of the lymphedema itself.
If lymphedema pain persists, talk with your health care provider about taking mild pain relievers such as ibuprofen , naproxen or acetaminophen .
Although you can get these medications without a prescription, check with your health care provider before taking them. For example, if you have a low blood count, or if you have kidney problems or heart failure, your health care provider may advise you not to take ibuprofen or naproxen.
What Are The Symptoms Of Advanced Breast Cancer
When cancer cells spread to other parts of your body, thats known as stage IV, or metastatic, breast cancer. The most common places for metastatic breast cancer to spread to are the lungs, bones, liver, and brain.
The vast majority of breast cancers are found before this pointonly 6% of women have metastatic cancer when they are diagnosed. Also important: Having any of these symptoms does not mean you have stage IV cancer, either. Its important to talk with your doctor to figure out whats going on. Here are some of the basic symptoms.
Symptoms of spreading to your lungs:
chronic chest infection
Symptoms of spreading to your brain:
weak or numb limbs
memory problems and/or unusual behavior
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.
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Breast Cancer In The Elderly
Breast cancer risk increases with age. A third of women diagnosed are older than 70! Cancer risk in general increases with age, and breast cancer is no exception. If youre a caregiver for an aging relative, make sure they receive proper screenings. Teach them the signs of breast cancer so they know what to look for.
Fortunately, the rate of breast cancer in women over 50 has been going down in recent years. Yet, as the population ages, the number of older women with breast cancer will continue to be high.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating breast cancer in the elderly. Cancer treatments include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Doctors often use a combination of these treatments for a single case of cancer. These treatments are hard on the body. Doctors must consider their patients ability to handle treatment when developing a plan.
Older patients are more likely to experience treatment side effects than younger patients. Sometimes, minimal treatment may be the best option. This may be the case if the cancer is not aggressive and the patient has other health conditions. This is a growing area of research and different doctors have different approaches. Your loved one may want to discuss treatment options with a few different doctors to find a treatment plan that makes them most comfortable.
Other Causes Of Pain And Tenderness
We often associate pain with something wrong, so when people feel tenderness or pain in their breast, they often think of breast cancer. But breast pain is rarely the first noticeable symptom of breast cancer. Several other factors can cause the pain.
Clinically known as mastalgia, breast pain can also be caused by the following:
- the fluctuation of hormones caused by menstruation
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How To Distinguish Ibc From Other More Common Conditions
It can be hard to distinguish breast changes caused by inflammatory breast cancer from other common conditions, such as an ordinary rash, allergic reaction, or infection. Thats why its important to see a health care provider as soon as you notice any of these changes to figure out the cause and get treatment, if necessary.
Treating Chest Wall Pain
Treatment for chest wall pain will depend on whats causing it.
If its found that your breast pain is caused by a pulled muscle in your chest, this is likely to improve over time and can be treated with pain relief.
Chest wall pain can also affect the area under the arm and towards the front of the chest, and this may be due to:
- costochondritis inflammation of parts of the ribs
- Tietzes syndrome inflammation of the costal cartilages and swelling
Your GP or specialist may be able to tell that the costal cartilages are painful if pressure is put on them. Sometimes this inflammation can feel similar to heart pain. You may feel tightness in the chest and a severe, sharp pain. The pain may also spread down the arm and can be worse when you move.
You may find it helpful to rest and avoid sudden movements that increase the pain. Pain relief such as paracetamol or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen may help.
Your specialist may suggest injecting the painful area with a local anaesthetic and steroid.
Smoking can make the inflammation worse, so you may find that your pain lessens if you cut down or stop altogether.
The NHS website has more information about costochondritis and Tietzes syndrome.
Pain caused by other medical conditions, such as angina or gallstones, may be felt in the breast. Your GP or specialist will advise you on the most appropriate treatment.
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What Should I Do If I Am Experiencing Symptoms
It is important to remember these symptoms can be caused by many different conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome or indigestion, and arent usually the result of cancer.
However, if you regularly experience one or more of these symptoms which are not normal for you, do not ignore them, contact your GP straight away.
Other Types Of Breast Cancer
Other less common types of breast cancer include invasive lobular breast cancer, which develops in the cells that line the milk-producing lobules, inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease of the breast.
It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymph nodes or the bloodstream. If this happens, it’s known as “secondary” or “metastatic” breast cancer.
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Diagnosing Chest Wall Pain
See your GP if your breast pain is new and carries on.
Your GP will examine your breasts and take a history of the type of pain you have and how often it occurs. To check how long the pain lasts for, how severe the pain is or if the pain may be linked to your menstrual cycle, your GP may ask you to fill in a simple pain chart.
If your GP thinks you may have chest wall pain, they may ask you to lean forward during the examination. This is to help them assess if the pain is inside your breast or in the chest wall.
Your GP may refer you to a breast clinic where youll be seen by specialist doctors or nurses for a more detailed assessment.
Metastatic Breast Cancer And Pain
Metastatic breast cancer may also cause pain. It could be from a larger tumorthese are often over 2 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, 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 your abdomen and develop jaundice .
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
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What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer that usually appears as skin inflammation and general changes in the breast, rather than as a defined lump. IBC is rather rare and only accounts for around one to five percent of diagnosed breast cancers. Educational campaigns about spotting breast cancer early usually focus on the more common forms of breast cancer, which cause lumps and changes in breast tissue that can be felt. But learning about other changes that could signal cancer can help you stay healthy.
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Breast Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
Most breast cancer symptoms are discovered by women during regular dailyactivities like bathing. Knowing how your breasts look and feel, andbeing alert for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, like a lump,can help you detect the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat.
Most breast changes are due to hormonal cycles or conditions that are less worrying than breast cancer. However, if you experience any of the following breast cancer symptoms, even if they seem mild, see your doctor.
- A lump in the breast or armpit is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Patients often describe this as a ball or a nodule. Lumps may feel soft and rubbery or hard. Unless you have small breasts or the lump is very large, you probably wont be able to see it.
- Skin redness
- Nipple changes, including the nipple turning inward, pulling to one side or changing direction
- Ulcer on the breast or nipple
- Thickening of the skin, resulting in an orange-peel texture
Though rare, men can also get breast cancer. The most common symptoms of male breast cancer are a lump, discharge or dimpling.
Seeing A Palliative Care Or Anesthesia Pain Specialist
You may have a palliative care or anesthesia pain specialist on your treatment team. If not, your oncologist may know of a specialist in your area.
Be sure to ask your oncologist for a referral if:
- Your pain is not controlled
- You have side effects from pain medications
- You are worried about becoming addicted to pain medications
- You would like to discuss more options to manage your pain
- You would like to discuss other sources of distress
- You have concerns about the benefits versus the burdens of your breast cancer treatments
You may only need to see the specialist once. Your health care provider should be able to carry out the pain management plan recommended by the specialist. If the treatment is effective, you may not need to see the specialist again.
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Keep An Eye On Nipple Issues
Sometimes breast cancer can cause a nipple to invert or sink into the breast. A rare type called Paget disease also causes a rash on the nipple and areola.
Breast cancer can also sometimes cause fluid to leak from the nipples. This is not the same as the milky discharge from both breasts thats common if youre pregnant and for up to a year after youve stopped breastfeeding. Thyroid problems, pituitary tumors, and some medications can also cause nipple discharge.
What youre looking for here is clear or bloody fluid that may come from just one breast instead of both or is associated with a lump. If thats you, get yourself checked out ASAP.
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.
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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
Breast Upper Back Or Shoulder Pain
It is normal to experience some breast pain around the time of your period, due to hormonal changes. Breast pain may also be a sign of breast cancer, especially if it lasts for more than a few weeks. Pain from breast cancer is most likely to appear in the breasts, underarm, or collarbone. It is also possible for pain to appear in the upper back or shoulder.
Some patients assume theyve pulled a muscle in their shoulder when they have breast cancer. This pain can be due to metastasis, which is when cancer spreads from one part of the body to another. Shoulder and upper back pain are very common and usually dont mean a patient has breast cancer. If youve had shoulder or back pain that wont go away, a doctor can screen you for cancer, along with other conditions.
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on a mammogram. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, itchy breast that is tender to the touch
- The surface of the breast may take on a ridged or pitted appearance, similar to an orange peel
- Heaviness, burning, or aching in one breast
- One breast is visibly larger than the other
- Inverted nipple
- No mass is felt with a breast self-exam
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm and/or above the collarbone
- Symptoms unresolved after a course of antibiotics
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer usually does not cause a distinct lump in the breast. Therefore, a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, or even a mammogram may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Ultrasounds may also miss inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can develop rapidly, and the disease can progress quickly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.
For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, redness, swelling, itchiness and soreness are often signs of a breast infection such as mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or nursing and you develop these symptoms, your doctor should test for inflammatory breast cancer.
What Is Palliative Care
Palliative care focuses on relieving or preventing symptoms rather than treating disease. Its an extra layer of care that can be given along with treatments for the breast cancer.
Palliative care can improve quality of life for patients and caregivers .
Specialists in palliative care help people and their families identify and manage physical, emotional, social and spiritual sources of distress .
Palliative care is a standard part of metastatic breast cancer care. It becomes the focus of care when treatment for the cancer ends.
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