What About Other Treatments That I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
Issues For Family Members And Other Loved Ones
Pain can affect the whole family. Its upsetting for family and friends to know a loved one is in pain.
Sometimes, a person living with pain may become irritable and this may strain family relationships.
Social support during this time is important for family members, especially spouses and partners.
Hospitals and other organizations offer support programs for spouses, partners, family members and other loved ones.
Find more information for family, friends and other loved ones.
Increased Doses Of Opioids And Side Effects
If pain increases over time, a higher dose of opioid medication may be needed.
Most people build up a tolerance to the side effects of lower doses of these drugs . They stop having side effects from the lower doses of the drugs and can handle the side effects of increased doses more easily .
If you need a higher dose of an opioid, your health care provider will prescribe increased doses of laxatives or add stronger laxatives. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you havent had a bowel movement in 4 days.
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You Cant Face The Stream In The Shower
Does wearing a bra suddenly irritate your nipples? Are your breasts so painful that you have to face away from the stream of water in the shower? Have your breasts become so sensitive that you dont like your partner to touch them anymore? Breasts or nipples that become more sensitive than normal can be a sign of cancer, Dr. Ross says.
Breast sensitivity is often tied to hormone changes, which is why many women experience breast tenderness as part of PMS and its one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. However, some types of breast cancer can affect your hormones, giving you a similar feeling, she explains.
So if your breasts are suddenly way more sensitive than normal and its not around that time of the month and youre not pregnant, give your doctor a call, she says.
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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You Feel A Strange Tickling Sensation
How your breasts feel internally can be just as important as how they feel on the outside, says Sherry Ross, MD, an OB-GYN and author of She-ology. Some women report feeling a sensation almost like theyre being tickled from the inside, their breast feels like its buzzing or prickly inside, or like their breast milk is letting down , she says.
Weird feelings can happen for no reason at all but if youre experiencing strange sensations in your breast that are abnormal and recurring, its time to call your doc, she says.
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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Palliative Care And Pain Specialists
Palliative care and pain specialists treat pain from cancer or other causes. They treat people with metastatic breast cancer as well as those with early breast cancer.
Palliative care specialists have special training in treating pain and other symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety and depression. They work with the oncology team to help people maintain the best quality of life possible.
They also help people weigh the burdens and benefits of different cancer treatments.
Palliative care specialists can also help with advance care planning. This planning helps people identify their personal values and goals that should guide their care.
With metastatic breast cancer, these discussions are especially important. Your oncologist will often be a part of the discussion with you and the palliative care specialist.
Medications For More Severe Bone Pain
Tramadol, tapentadol or opioids can be added if the ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen alone dont relieve your pain.
Side effects of tramadol, tapentadol or opioids include sleepiness and nausea. These usually go away after about a week. If they dont, tell your health care provider. These side effects can be treated.
All of these drugs can cause constipation, so you may need to make some changes in your diet or take medications to promote regular bowel movements. To manage constipation, your health care provider may recommend you:
- Eat high-fiber foods
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Take a soluble fiber supplement
- Use a mild laxative or a stronger laxative )
If you dont have a bowel movement within 4 days, despite taking the recommended laxatives, tell your health care provider.
If youre prescribed opioid medications, your health care provider will carefully monitor the amount prescribed so you dont take too much.
You may also be given a bone-strengthening drug therapy to relieve pain.
Learn more about opioids.
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Grade Of Breast Cancer
The grade describes the appearance of the cancer cells.
- Low grade the cells, although abnormal, appear to be growing slowly.
- Medium grade the cells look more abnormal than low-grade cells.
- High grade the cells look even more abnormal and are more likely to grow quickly.
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Change In Size Shape Or Feel Of Your Breast
A cancer might cause your breast to look bigger or have a different shape than usual, it might feel different.
Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender just before their period.
It can help to be breast aware. This means getting to know the size, shape and feel of your breasts.
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Breast Lumps Or Lumpiness
Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.
Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then its likely normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition .
See a health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something thats different from what you felt before
If youve had a benign lump in the past, dont assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but its best to make sure.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Having some breast cancer risk factors is common, but it doesnt mean that you will get breast cancer. However, breast cancer screenings are important if you have several risk factors. Some breast cancer risk factors are uncontrollable, but some are controllable, meaning with certain actions you can help prevent cancer before it starts. Here are some risk factors for breast cancer:
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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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Does Breast Cancer Hurt
Not for most patients. Roswell Park sees between 1,100 and 1,300 new breast cancer patients every year. The majority of new cases are found by imaging. Every once in a while, we do hear that a patient feels the tumor and comes in to get it checked out and learn they have cancer. If we see 100 patients who come to Roswell Park because of breast pain, we might find cancer in one case. The odds are slim, but it is a possibility. If you have concerns, I encourage you to a mammogram and get it checked out.
Typical breast cancer, when it is found, also doesnt cause pain. If a tumor grows big enough that you can feel it, it will feel like a rock in your breast tissue. When I teach my medical students, I compare it to a small rock inside tofu. Tofu has a very soft texture. If you have a rock inside that soft tofu, youre going to feel the softness but also the hardness underneath. Cancerous tumors are hard and irregular in size.
After all, that is why women are encouraged to get annual mammograms starting at age 40: a mammogram can detect cancer in the breast tissue years before it becomes big enough to feel.
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Myth : Breast Cancer Doesnt Cause Pain
Thats not entirely true. Fast-growing breast cancers can be painful. Breast pain in one particular spot, especially in older women, is a warning sign.
Most women experience general breast pain or soreness that comes and goes, Dr. Pederson says. Thats not a sign of cancer, but usually due to hormone fluctuations or too much caffeine.
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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Living With Breast Cancer
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways, depending on what stage it’s at and what treatment you’re having.
How women cope with their diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. You can be reassured that there are several forms of support available, if you need it. For example:
- your family and friends can be a powerful support system
- you can communicate with other people in the same situation
- find out as much as possible about your condition
- don’t try to do too much or overexert yourself
- make time for yourself
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program At Ctca
Thats why we developed the CTCA Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program, where our team of breast cancer experts work quickly to properly diagnose and stage each patient’s disease so she can make more informed decisions about her treatment options. Our breast cancer experts collaborate daily, allowing them to reach a diagnosis more efficiently and provide an individualized care plan designed to allow you to start treatment as soon as possible. The team also offers opportunities to enroll qualified patients in carefully selected clinical trials in areas such as immunotherapy and genomically targeted chemotherapy.
If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of IBC and want to schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing, or chat online with a member of our team.
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Breast Cancer In Young Women
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. While breast cancer diagnosis and treatment are difficult for women of any age, young survivors may find it overwhelming.
CDC is working to increase awareness of breast cancer and improve the health and quality of life of young breast cancer survivors and young women who are at higher risk of getting breast cancer.
The Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women helps CDC develop evidence-based approaches to advance understanding and awareness of breast cancer among young women.Links with this icon indicate that you are leaving the CDC website.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
- Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website.
- CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance on other federal or private website.
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.
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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