Bone Thinning Bone And Joint Pain
A group of estrogen-blocking breast cancer drugs called aromatase inhibitors may turn your bones more brittle. That may cause bone and joint pain.
Certain types of chemotherapy can also cause bone thinning. If you arenât already in menopause, it may start prematurely.
Breast cancer itself can cause pain if it spreads to your bones. A specialized radiation treatment called radiotherapy can sometimes help. Ask your doctor about other treatment options like pain medications.
Cancer Tumors Versus Cysts And Fibroadenomas
Cysts, which are fluid-filled lumps, are common in the breast and are benign. They form when fluid builds up inside breast glands, and tend to be smooth or round. Fibroadenomas, which are benign tumors made up of glandular and connective breast tissue, are usually smooth and firm or rubbery to the touch. Both of these conditions tend to affect younger women fibroadenomas are most common in women in their 20s and 30s, and cysts are most common in women under 40.
Despite these common descriptions, it is impossible to tell by touch whether a lump is cancer.
Breast Pain And Breast Cancer In Men
As with breast cancer in women, breast cancer in men is often painless. That said, it tends to press on nearby structures sooner than a tumor would in most women. In addition, hormone-induced breast pain is also less likely to occur in men. If you are a man experiencing breast pain, play it safe. Breast cancer can and does occur in men. In fact, 1 in every 100 breast cancer diagnoses in the United States is in a man.
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Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Early Detection And Prevention
When it comes to cancer, early detection is important, but so is reducing your risk. There are several healthy lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Stay lean after menopause. Keep a healthy weight and a low amount of body fat. Eating a healthy diet can help.
Get active and sit less. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
Avoid alcohol. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man.
Choose to breastfeed. Try to breastfeed exclusively for six months after giving birth, and continue even when other foods are introduced.
Manage hormones naturally. If you are going through menopause and trying to control the symptoms, try non-hormonal methods before turning to hormone replacement therapy.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get regular breast cancer screening exams. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.
Are You Having Breast Cancer Pain
Breast pain can be stressful and concerning, especially if you are not sure what is causing it. Breast pain occurs for most people at one point or another. Knowing more about it and when it may signal something serious can help you take an active role in your healthcare.
This article will explain times when breast cancer is painful, what it may be indicating, and whether you are at higher risk for breast disease.
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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.
Possible Causes Of Painful Lump In Breast
1. Generalized Breast Lumpiness
Once known as fibrocystitis or fibrocystic disease of the breasts, it was eventually realized this condition is so common and it’s, in fact, considered normal. Characterized by many nodular lumps in the breasts or varying areas of thickness in certain areas of the breast, painful lump in the breast can also feel as though there are clusters of small bumps which are tender to touch. There is typically a tendency for this to flare up during the menstrual period or pregnancy and is considered completely normal. Hormone therapy will also exacerbate this condition. Though it can be chronic, it often abates after menopause. With consistent breast exams, you can assure that none of these lumps are cancerous, as they are often benign.
2. Cysts and Abscess Lumps
3. Fat Necrosis
Necrosis means “death of tissue,” so the connotation is generally not a favorable one. However, in this case it would be a potential cause of a painful breast lump. The fat cells in the breasts will become inflamed and altered to form into round lumps which are typically firm upon palpation. The necrosis will typically occur after a firm, bruising impact to the area or some other type of injury in the chest. It may take weeks for fat necrosis to form after an injury occurs.
5. Blood Clots
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Does a mammogram expose me to significant radiation?
- Are benign breast conditions hereditary?
- Are there genetic tests I should consider?
- Should I be concerned if the area around my biopsy is red and hurts days later?
- Can a breast reduction reduce your risk of benign breast conditions?
- How do you detect lumps if you have breast implants?
Types Of Breast Cancer
There are two categories that reflect the nature of breast cancer:
- Noninvasive cancer is cancer that hasnt spread from the original tissue. This is referred to as stage 0.
- Invasive cancer is cancer thats spread to surrounding tissues. These are categorized as stages 1, 2, 3, or 4.
The tissue affected determines the type of cancer:
- Ductal carcinoma is a cancer that forms in the lining of the milk ducts. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
- Lobular carcinoma is cancer in the lobules of the breast. The lobules are where milk is produced.
- Sarcoma is cancer in the breasts connective tissue. This is a rare type of breast cancer.
When you visit your doctor with concerns about breast pain, tenderness, or a lump, there are common tests they might perform.
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Yes Breast Cancer Can Hurt
by Patient Advocate
The myth that breast cancer doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t hurt, but I am worried. Shouldn’t 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 doesn’t 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, Paget’s 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 Love’s Breast Book, 5th ed. Da Capo Press, 2010.
Are You Having Regular Periods
Dr. Jones: Okay you’re 24 and are you having regular periods?
Dr. Jones: Okay, and when you say your breasts, you put that as more than one breast, so both sides are normal?
Interviewer: Let’s say the left side.
Dr. Jones: Okay it’s only one breast?
Interviewer: Yeah the left sides kind of tender and I’m not really sure what’s going on. I know I didn’t hit it with anything.
Dr. Jones: Okay, but you think you didn’t?
Interviewer: I think I didn’t.
Dr. Jones: You don’t remember that you did?
Interviewer: I don’t remember.
Dr. Jones: All right and when was your last period?
Interviewer: A month ago.
Dr. Jones: Okay, so it turns out that breast tenderness is common and it’s often concerning because people think, “Is it a hormonal disorder?” Or clearly there worried about whether it’s cancer. So first of all, when women complain of breast tenderness the first thing we’re going to see if how old they are. So new breast tenderness in a 70-year-old is more concerning than breast tenderness in a 24-year-old.
Interviewer: How so?
Dr. Jones: Well because breast tenderness in a 70-year-old, those women are not having any hormonal fluctuations. So they don’t have the rise and fall of hormones every month that make their breasts more swollen some times of the month than others.
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Pagets Disease Of The Breast
This is a rare skin condition that is sometimes a sign of an underlying breast cancer. The symptoms are a red, scaly rash on the nipple and surrounding area. This can be itchy and looks a bit like eczema. It is sometimes mistaken for eczema at first.
See your doctor if you have any changes in the skin of your breast.
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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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.
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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About The Medical Reviewer
Dr. Overmoyer launched the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program at DF/BWCC in 2009, where she continues to serve as the principal investigator of many IBC research programs and clinical trials. She began her oncology career in 1989 at the University of Pennsylvania, where she trained in breast cancer and also participated in a major study in inflammatory breast cancer. She went on to develop the breast cancer program at the Cleveland Clinic and later developed two National Cancer Institute-sponsored studies on angiogenesis inhibitors and inflammatory breast cancer.
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 isn’t 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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Are There Alternative Ways To Treat Breast Cancer Pain
An accurate diagnosis of the cause of pain can be challenging, and effective pain management can be complex. Pain management specialists employ an interdisciplinary approach to ease suffering and improve quality of life of those living with pain.
In addition to medications, a specialist might recommend:
- Physical therapy
Men And Breast Cancer Warning Signs
Breast cancer isnt typically associated with people who were assigned male at birth. But male breast cancer can occur in rare instances at any age, although its more common in older men.
Many people dont realize that people assigned male at birth have breast tissue too, and those cells can undergo cancerous changes. Because male breast cells are much less developed than female breast cells, breast cancer isnt as common in this part of the population.
The most common symptom of breast cancer in people assigned male at birth is a lump in the breast tissue.
Other than a lump, symptoms of male breast cancer include:
- thickening of the breast tissue
- nipple discharge
- redness or scaling of the nipple
- a nipple that retracts or turns inward
- unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
Most men dont regularly check their breast tissue for signs of lumps, so male breast cancer is often diagnosed much later.
Common causes of benign breast lumps include:
With fat necrosis, the mass cant be distinguished from a cancerous lump without a biopsy.
Even though the majority of breast lumps are caused by less severe conditions, new, painless lumps are still the most common symptom of breast cancer.
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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.
You’re Getting Your Period
Two-thirds of breast pain is caused by the predictable surges of estrogen and progesterone around your monthly period.
Hormonal breast pain can happen to any woman that is menstruating, Dr. Swain says. It doesnt matter if theyre 14 or 44, as long as theyre still menstruating they have the risk of having cyclic breast pain.
Youll usually feel period-related boob pain in both breasts at once and all over your breasts. Most people describe the pain as achy rather than sharp.
For some women, its enough just to know that the pain will go away, usually in a week to 10 days. Other women seek relief from over-the-counter pain medications. There is one FDA-approved prescription drug for breast pain, called danazol, but it can have serious side effects.
Tweaking your diet may limit menstrual breast pain as well: Eating more flaxseed might help, as can sticking to a low-fat diet thats rich in complex carbs, says Dr. Swain.
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