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Does Breast Pain Mean Cancer

Symptoms Of Angiosarcoma Of The Breast

Does increased breast size with painful lump indicate Breast Cancer? – Dr. Nanda Rajaneesh

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.

Changes To The Breast Or Chest Area

After breast-conserving surgery or a mastectomy, with or without reconstruction, be aware of any changes to either side, such as:

  • swelling on your chest, in your armpit or around your collarbone
  • a change in shape or size
  • a change in skin texture, such as puckering or dimpling
  • redness or a rash on or around the nipple or on the skin
  • liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing it
  • the nipple has become inverted or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
  • swelling in the arm or hand
  • a lump or thickening that feels different

When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About My Breast Pain

If you notice that your breast pain hasnt gone away after three weeks, contact your healthcare provider immediately. They can help determine the cause of your pain and design a treatment plan to fit your needs.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

While breast pain can cause significant discomfort, its usually not serious. Fortunately, symptoms can typically be managed with simple self-care practices. If you develop other symptoms along with breast pain such as lumps, changes in the texture of your breasts or discharge from your nipples schedule a consultation with your healthcare provider.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/28/2021.

References

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Other Indications That It Might Be Cancer

You know that a lump may be a sign of breast cancer. But some types, like inflammatory breast cancer, dont usually cause a lump. So, its worth knowing other signs and symptoms of breast cancer, such as:

  • swelling around your breast, armpit, or collarbone
  • dimpling of your skin, which can resemble an orange peel
  • red or discolored, dry, flaky, or thickening skin on your breast or nipple
  • unusual nipple discharge, especially blood
  • the nipple is turning inward
  • any change in size or shape of a breast
  • pain

If cancer has advanced beyond your breast, symptoms may include:

  • unexplained weight loss
  • shortness of breath
  • bone pain

Symptoms in men are very much the same. Of course, having one or more symptoms doesnt mean you have breast cancer, but the only way to know for certain is to call a doctor as quickly as possible.

Breast cancer is most common in people who:

  • are female
  • with age, especially after 50
  • have a personal or family history of breast cancer
  • have their first period before 12 years old or menopause after 55 years old
  • experience physical inactivity

common among premenopausal women. It can cause fibrous lumps and cysts. These lumps may increase in size and tenderness before your period and decrease after.

Breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs that are typically smooth and round. They may or may not feel tender. A milk retention cyst is called a galactocele.

Other benign breast lumps include:

Did You Know That In Many Cases Breast Cancer Does Not Show Up As A Lump

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There are several other major warning signs of breast cancer other than a lump. But many breast cancers have no obvious symptoms at all. When there are no symptoms, breast cancer can be found through a screening mammogram. The most important thing is to bring any unusual signs to your doctor’s attention, and to talk to your doctor about a breast screening plan that is appropriate for you.

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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

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.

Although a lump in the breast is typically associated with breast cancer, these lumps usually arent cancer. Most are benign, or noncancerous.

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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You Could Have Inflammatory Breast Cancer

This is one of the few times breast cancer may actually involve pain. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and aggressive form of the disease that accounts for about 1% to 5% of all breast cancers.

In people with inflammatory breast cancer, the cancer cells obstruct the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast, causing redness, swelling, and inflammation over about a third of the breast. The skin may also look pitted due to the buildup of lymph fluid. Sometimes you might feel a lump, but usually not.

Inflammatory breast cancer is more common in younger women, African-American women, and obese womenand its usually treated with surgery, chemo, and/or radiation. Targeted therapies are also sometimes used.

Many of these symptoms could also be from an infection or injury. Dont panic, but do get checked out.

What Is The Treatment For Breast Cancer Vs Cysts

Do All Breast Cancer Lumps Cause Pain?

Breast Cancer

Surgery is generally the first step after the diagnosis of breast cancer. The type of surgery is dependent upon the size and type of tumor and the patient’s health and preferences. The choice of procedures should be discussed with your health-care team as any approach has advantages and disadvantages.

Many women have treatment in addition to surgery, which may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormonal therapy. The decision about which additional treatments are needed is based upon the stage and type of cancer, the presence of hormone and/or HER2/neu receptors, and patient health and preferences.

Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Radiation therapy is used to kill tumor cells if there are any left after surgery.

Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy consists of the administration of medications that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. In breast cancer, three different chemotherapy strategies may be used:

  • Presurgical chemotherapy is given to shrink a large tumor and/or to kill stray cancer cells. This increases the chances that surgery will get rid of the cancer completely.
  • Therapeutic chemotherapy is routinely administered to women with metastatic breast cancer that has spread beyond the confines of the breast or local area.
  • Hormonal Therapy for Breast Cancer

    Breast Cysts

    Surgery

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    What Is A Normal Breast

    No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age. For more information, see the National Cancer Institutes Breast Changes and Conditions.external icon

    Fibrosis And Simple Cysts

    • Signs and symptoms can include lumps, swelling, tenderness, or pain.
    • Treatment is not needed but may be used to help ease discomfort. Options may include heating pads, supportive bras, over-the-counter pain relievers, avoiding caffeine, removing cyst fluid, and surgery.
    • This condition does not increase cancer risk.

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    Breast Pain Linked To Periods

    Many women feel discomfort and lumpiness in both breasts a week or so before their period.

    The pain can vary from mild to severe and the breasts can also be tender and sore to touch.

    You may experience heaviness, tenderness, a burning, prickling or stabbing pain, or a feeling of tightness.

    The pain usually affects both breasts but it can affect just one breast. It can also spread to the armpit, down the arm and to the shoulder blade.

    Cyclical breast pain is linked to changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. The pain often goes away once a period starts. In some women, this type of pain will go away by itself, but it can come back.

    This type of pain usually stops after the menopause, though women taking hormone replacement therapy can also have breast pain.

    Breast pain can also be associated with starting to take or changing contraception that contains hormones.

    Bottom Line On Breast Pain

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    If youre female, at some point in your life you will likely experience pain in one or both of your breasts. Its natural to worry, but more times than not, the pain is not anything life-threatening and will likely go away on it own, or with a few lifestyle modifications. But, look, were talking about your breasts. So if they hurt and you are worried, its always better to get things checked out by a medical professional for peace of mind. One less thing for you to worry about!

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    Kinds Of Breast Cancer

    The most common kinds of breast cancer are

    • Invasive ductal carcinoma. The cancer cells begin in the ducts and then grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
    • Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells begin in the lobules and then spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.

    Breast Pain And Tenderness

    Breast pain and tenderness is very common and is usually not cancer. For people experiencing only breast pain, it is cancer in just 1 to 3 out of 100 people .

    Cyclical breast pain comes and goes in relation to your period and is the most common kind of breast pain, affecting about 7 out of 10 people . It is a pattern of pain that typically occurs during the luteal phase with each menstrual cycle. Cyclical breast tenderness is a sign that ovulation has occurred and is typically experienced in the 5-10 days leading up to the start of a period, but goes away after the period starts . It is most often described as aching, heavy, and tender, but can also feel sharp or shooting .

    Pain that is not cyclical could be due to something in the breast or ribcage like inflammation, infection, or injury, or could be a sign of cancer . Non-cyclical breast pain that is persistently in one spotâespecially if there is also a breast lumpâshould be evaluated by a healthcare provider .

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    Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms

    Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body to which the cancer has spread and its stage. Sometimes, metastatic disease may not cause any symptoms.

    • If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
    • If the bones are affected, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
    • If tumors form in the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain or extreme fatigue.
    • If the liver is affected, symptoms may include nausea, extreme fatigue, increased abdominal girth, swelling of the feet and hands due to fluid collection and yellowing or itchy skin.
    • If breast cancer spreads to the brain or spinal cord and forms tumors, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement or seizures.

    Breast Pain: 10 Reasons Your Breasts May Hurt

    Should I be concerned about breast pain? Could it be cancer?

    Most women experience some form of breast pain at one time or another. Breast pain is typically easy to treat, but on rarer occasions it can be a sign of something more serious.

    Medical director of the Suburban Hospital Breast Center Pamela Wright, M.D., discusses the most common causes of breast pain , their treatments and when to see a doctor:

  • Hormones are making your breasts sore.

    Hormonal fluctuations are the number one reason women have breast pain. Breasts become sore three to five days prior to the beginning of a menstrual period and stop hurting after it starts. This is due to a rise in estrogen and progesterone right before your period. These hormones cause your breasts to swell and can lead to tenderness.

    Its normal to have breast tenderness that comes and goes around the time of your period, says Wright. Its nothing to worry about.

    If you become pregnant, your breasts may remain sore during the first trimester as hormone production ramps up. Breast tenderness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy for many women.

    Steps you can take to minimize sore breasts include:

  • Eliminate caffeine
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Ask your doctor if switching birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy medications may help
  • Severe swelling
  • A lump in the breast
  • Redness and warmth, which could indicate an infection
  • A bruise on your breast that doesnt go away
  • A pulled muscle
  • Trauma to the chest wall
  • Bone fracture
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
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    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.

    What Is Breast Cancer Screening

    Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.

    Breast cancer screeningexternal icon means checking a womans breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. All women need to be informed by their health care provider about the best screening options for them. When you are told about the benefits and risks of screening and decide with your health care provider whether screening is right for youand if so, when to have itthis is called informed and shared decision-making.

    Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about which breast cancer screening tests are right for you, and when you should have them.

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    When To Contact A Doctor

    If a person experiences breast pain, they should note when it started to occur and any potential triggers that could have caused it.

    If a person is experiencing any of the following, they should make an appointment with a healthcare professional:

    • unexplained pain that lasts for longer than 2 weeks
    • pain that is accompanied by a lump
    • pain that is specific to only one area of the breast
    • pain that gets worse over time
    • intense pain that inhibits oneâs everyday activities
    • pain that is accompanied by other changes to breast tissue, such as flushing, inflammation, and irritation

    A doctor may recommend a mammogram to provide them with a visual of the breast tissue to detect any lumps or tissue irregularities.

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