Living With Benign Breast Conditions
The pain and tenderness of a benign breast condition can be uncomfortable. Your sleep position and clothing can affect your pain level.
Living with benign breast conditions can be emotionally hard, as well. Many women are worried that a non-cancerous lump will turn into cancer. While thats not likely, there is a small chance it could happen. Your doctor may recommend regular screenings of your breasts. That might increase your worry and anxiety. It also can be expensive.
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Can Breast Cancer Be Detected During A Self Exam
Still, some men and women will find breast cancer and be diagnosed with it as a result of a lump detected during a self-exam. If youre a woman, its important for you to be familiar with how your breasts look and check them regularly. This will help you become aware of any changes or abnormalities as they occur.
What Kind Of Lumps Are Normal In Breasts
Because benign tumors make up the vast majority of breast lumps, there is a strong probability that this one is not malignant. It is not abnormal for breast tissue to have a lumpy or dense appearance. To become familiar with your breast tissue and determine what is typical for you, it is recommended that you do regular breast exams.
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Can You Have Breast Cancer Without A Lump
Yes. Not only are many breast cancer lumps undetectable to the touch, but theres a type of malignancy called inflammatory breast cancer that often causes no tumor at all. The symptoms result from cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin, a condition that leads to breast inflammation and symptoms such as redness and swelling. Fortunately, IBC is a rare form of breast cancer, accounting for only 1% to 5% of all breast cancers.
Other Symptoms And Signs Of Metastasis
Loss of appetite
If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom, in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.
If the doctor diagnoses metastatic breast cancer, relieving symptoms remains an important part of care and treatment. This may be called palliative care or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.
The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
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Yes Breast Cancer Can Hurt
The myth that breast cancer doesnt hurt causes way too much pain! Like many myths, this one has roots in a fact. Compared to a breast cyst, which is often very tender to the touch, a cancerous lump usually doesnt hurt when a woman or doctor feels it.
We hear many reports from women that go something like this:
I found this lump in my breast, so I went to see the doctor. It really hurt when he did the exam. He told me not to worry because breast cancer doesnt hurt, but I am worried. Shouldnt he have ordered a mammogram or ultrasound to see what it is?
Probably the doctor made a determination based on the shape, texture and tenderness of the lump that it was a cyst. I hope that what he said to the patient was, Usually a painful lump like this is not breast cancer. However, what the patient took away was the message that breast cancer doesnt hurt. And yes, he should have ordered an ultrasound. An ultrasound is an easy, comparatively inexpensive test that can usually tell for sure whether a lump is a harmless, fluid-filled cyst.
Our community member Peglove recently wrote a describing her experience with a painful lump:
Fortunately, Pagets is not usually an aggressive form of breast cancer, but sometimes it is associated with other tumors inside the breast. For this reason it is important to see a doctor, especially for a rash on just one side.
Love, S. and K. Lindsey.Dr. Susan Loves Breast Book, 5th ed. Da Capo Press, 2010.
Where Does Breast Cancer Start
A cancerous lump doesnt shrink and is likely to continue growing. Breast cancer can start in any part of your breast, armpit, or all the way up to your collarbone. But another 2017 study showed that the most frequent site for a primary breast tumor is the upper outer quadrant. Thats the part of your breast thats closest to your armpit.
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Is Breast Cancer Lump Painful
In general, cancerous breast lumps tend to be more irregular in shape. They may also feel firm or solid, and might be fixed to the tissue in the breast. They are also often painless. However, in a small percentage of women, a painful breast lump turns out to be cancer. Breast cancer lumps can vary in size.
Can Breast Cancer Death
Deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, but breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women. Each year in the United States, about 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men.
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How Do You Know If Its A Lump Or Breast Tissue
Your doctor will take a clinical history and perform a physical assessment of the breast during an examination to examine a breast lump, and will most likely prescribe breast imaging tests. In women under the age of 30, who are pregnant, or who are breastfeeding, ultrasound is often the first or only imaging procedure used to determine a lump.
Premenstrual Breast Pain And Swelling
- Main Symptom: breast fullness and pain.
- Cause: extra body fluid from female hormone cycles.
- Other symptoms: headache, swollen feet .
- Timing: mainly noticed in the week prior to menstrual periods.
- Course: improves during menstrual period and goes away between menstrual periods.
- Physical Findings: fullness that can be felt throughout both breasts.
- Onset: usually 2 years after onset of periods . Similar onset as for menstrual cramps.
- Frequency: 10% of teens and 50% of adult women.
- Treatment: mainly ibuprofen and support bra. If breast pain can’t be controlled with ibuprofen, 80% can be improved by birth control pills.
- Other treatments: daily exercise and getting enough sleep.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Symptoms of IBC progress quickly, over three to six weeks, and may include:
- Areas of discoloration , a bruise or rash spread over one-third of your breast.
- Dimpling, pitting or thickening of your breast skin that resembles an orange peel.
- Pain, swelling, itchiness, firmness or tenderness in one breast.
- Warmth, burning, heaviness or enlargement of one breast.
- Inverted or retracted nipple .
- Swollen lymph nodes near your collarbone or under your arm.
What Is Fat Necrosis
Fat necrosis is a condition in which painless, round, firm lumps caused by damaged and disintegrating fatty tissues form in the breast tissue. Fat necrosis often occurs in women with very large breasts or who have had a bruise or blow to the breast. This condition may also be the result of a lumpectomy and radiation from a prior cancerous lump. In some cases, healthcare providers will watch the lump through several menstrual cycles. He or she may want to do a mammogram before deciding whether to remove it. These lumps are not cancerous and they do not increase your risk of cancer.
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How To Communicate Your Pain Level With Your Healthcare Provider
There are several terms that healthcare providers use to describe cancer-associated pain. Learning about these descriptions, as well as how to describe and rank your pain, will help you communicate with your healthcare provider so they can have a better grasp on how to best control your pain.
- Acute pain comes on rapidly. It may last only a few moments or go on for days at a time.
- Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts for longer than six months.
- Breakthrough pain is pain that you feel despite your pain treatment regimen.
- Referred pain is pain that is felt in an area away from the actual source of the painfor example feeling shoulder pain during a gallbladder attack.
- Phantom pain is pain that is felt in a region of the body that isnt there. For example, feeling pain where your leg used to be after an amputation for sarcoma, or feeling pain where your breast used to be after a mastectomy.
Other ways that pain is characterized include the:
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Can Breast Cancer Cause Cyclical Pain
Usually we feel this type of pain on both sides, but occasionally one side is especially sensitive. Cyclical pain is rarely associated with cancer. The kind of pain that MIGHT be breast cancer is usually just on one side, and it doesnt change over the course of the month. The woman can point to the place that hurts.
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Easing Worries About Radiation Therapy
Its normal to worry about possible side effects of radiation therapy.
Talk with your health care provider about your concerns.
Your health care provider may be able to suggest a hospital social worker, patient navigator, psychologist or support group to help ease anxiety related to radiation therapy .
Learn more about support groups.
When To See Your Healthcare Provider
It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have breast pain from any cause. Even if it’s not due to cancer, many women find that breast pain decreases their quality of life. In one study, 15% of women experienced breast pain at some time in their life that interfered with work and family activities. Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any unusual discomfort.
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Breast Cancer Tumor Cells
Under the microscope, breast cancer cells may appear similar to normal breast cells. They also may look quite different, depending on the tumors growth and grade.
Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways. The cells may be arranged in clusters. They also may be seen invading blood vessels or lymphatic vessels.
The nucleus of cancer cells can be striking, with nuclei that are larger and irregular in shape. These centers will stain darker with special dyes. Often, there are extra nuclei rather than just one center.
Types Of Breast Lumps
There are numerous types of lumps that form on the breast. Your lump on breast can be cyclic mastalgia or non-cyclic mastalgia. Cyclic lumps are associated with menstrual cycle while noncyclic ones are not. Some lumps on the breast may be caused by infections and such lumps that will completely disappear as the infection is treated are the ones referred to as noncyclic mastalgia. In case you are not sure of the origin of your lump on breast, it is advisable you seek help from your doctor to make sure that you are not dealing with a serious condition.
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Why Do My Breasts Hurt
Breast pain is very common in women of all ages.
Having painful, sore or tender breasts can cause a lot of anxiety. But on its own, pain in the breasts isnt usually a sign of breast cancer.
Many women experience breast pain as part of their normal menstrual cycle . This is called cyclical breast pain.
Lasting pain in the breast thats not related to periods is known as non-cyclical breast pain.
Sometimes pain that feels as though its in the breast is coming from somewhere else, such as a pulled muscle in the chest. This is known as chest wall pain.
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Most Breast Pain Is Benign
Breast pain, or mastalgia, is uncommon with breast cancer. Most of the time, breast pain happens along with your menstrual cycle, but it can also be linked to benign nonhormonal causes. Other benign conditions that can cause breast pain include breast cysts, fibroadenomas, or blocked milk ducts. And even though the pain with these conditions can be troubling, it is not usually dangerous.
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Breast Lumps And Pain Medications
When nonmedical treatment fails to control cyclic breast pain, your health care professional may prescribe birth control pills or danazol . Be sure to ask about possible side effects of these medications and report them to your doctor if you experience them.
- Many other drugs have been tried in the treatment of cyclic breast pain and have been found not to be useful or are generally not recommended because of their side effects.
- Noncyclic breast pain is managed by treating the underlying cause. If a mass or lump is found, it is checked and treated. When your breast pain is caused by chest wall tenderness, it is treated with anti-inflammatory medication or rarely by steroid injections.
- If no cause for the noncyclic pain is found, a pain treatment protocol for cyclic pain is usually tried and often found to be successful.
- For simple mastitis without an abscess, oral antibiotics are prescribed. The antibiotic chosen will depend on the clinical situation, your doctors preference, and your medication allergies, if any. This medicine is safe to use while breastfeeding and will not harm the baby.
- Chronic mastitis in nonbreastfeeding women is more complicated. Recurrent episodes of mastitis are common. Occasionally this type of infection responds poorly to antibiotics. Therefore, close follow-up with your doctor is mandatory.
What Causes Lump In Breast That Hurt
When many people hear about a lump on the breast the first thing they think of is cancer. However, you should know that not all lumps that develop on the breast should be a cause for worry. However, the best thing to do when you realize this condition is to have it checked by your medical provider to ascertain the underlying condition behind the lump on your breast. There are a lot of conditions that will result to a lump on breast some of which will just heal and disappear without your intervention.There are numerous lumps that can form on your breast that can be benign or non-cancerous hence they are caused by conditions like change in hormonal levels in women. They experience this problem mostly during menstrual cycle.
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Breast Or Nipple Pain As A Symptom Of Breast Cancer
Breast or nipple pain is a feeling of discomfort, tenderness, or affliction in any part of the breast or underarm region. It may occur for numerous reasons, and is usually not related to cancer. Although many women with pain in one or both breasts may be concerned that it is breast cancer, breast pain is NOT commonly a symptom of cancer, the National Breast Cancer Foundation reports. There are a number of harmless causes for breast pain and tenderness that may primarily be related to changes in hormone levels.
Causes of breast or nipple pain include puberty, menstruation and premenstrual syndrome , pregnancy, recent childbirth, menopause, fibrocystic breasts, or the use of certain medications. When breast or nipple pain is related to cancer, it is the result of some degree of inflammation. Patients should consult with a healthcare provider when breast or nipple pain is accompanied by other symptoms, including a breast lump or mass, swelling of all or part of a breast, skin irritation or dimpling, nipple retraction, nipple discharge other than breast milk, or redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.
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.
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Lobular Carcinoma In Situ
- LCIS usually does not cause a lump. Its often diagnosed when a woman is being checked for another breast problem nearby.
- Most of the time LCIS does not need treatment, but in some cases a doctor will recommend surgery.
- LCIS increases the risk of breast cancer. Women with LCIS should talk to their health care provider about being screened more often, and/or trying to lower their risk through lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery.
Can Benign Breast Conditions Be Prevented Or Avoided
Benign breast conditions cant be prevented or avoided. Your family genes have the greatest impact on your breast health. However, you can lower your risks for certain conditions. For example, if your benign breast condition is due to being overweight, consider losing weight. If its due to taking hormones or taking birth control pills, talk to your doctor about other medicine options. In some cases, your doctor may suggest you take birth control pills to reduce a certain type of benign breast condition.
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