Where Can Breast Cancer Spread
The most common places for breast cancer to spread to are the lymph nodes, bone, liver, lungs and brain. The symptoms you may experience will depend on where in the body the cancer has spread to. You might not have all of the symptoms mentioned here.
Remember other conditions can cause these symptoms. They donât necessarily mean that you have cancer that has spread. But if you have symptoms that you are worried about, discuss them with your GP, cancer specialist, or breast care nurse so that you can be checked.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Vs Cysts
Early breast cancer has no symptoms. It is usually not painful.
Most breast cancer is discovered before symptoms are present, either by finding an abnormality on mammography or feeling a breast lump. A lump in the armpit or above the collarbone that does not go away may be a sign of cancer. Other possible symptoms are breast discharge, nipple inversion, or changes in the skin overlying the breast.
- Most breast lumps are not cancerous. All breast lumps, however, need to be evaluated by a doctor.
- Breast discharge is a common problem. Discharge is most concerning if it is from only one breast or if it is bloody. In any case, all breast discharge should be evaluated.
- Nipple inversion is a common variant of normal nipples, but nipple inversion that is a new development needs to be of concern.
- Changes in the skin of the breast include redness, changes in texture, and puckering. These changes are usually caused by skin diseases but occasionally can be associated with breast cancer.
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.
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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.
Can Shoulder Blade Pain Be A Symptom Of Breast Cancer
Pain is not a common symptom of breast cancer. However, breast cancer that has metastasized can sometimes cause shoulder blade pain.
One of the most common locations for breast cancer metastasis is in the bones. Pain can be related to the cancer itself or fractures that happen when bones weaken.
Bladder, prostate, thyroid, uterus, lung, and kidney cancers can also spread to your bones. Lung and kidney cancers are also known to spread to the shoulder joint and shoulder blade.
It is also possible that pain near your right shoulder could be an indication that breast cancer has spread to your liver, because some of the nerve networks around the liver originate from the same nerves that attach near your right shoulder blade.
If youve had breast cancer in the past, and youre now experiencing shoulder pain, its a good idea to see a doctor about it as soon as possible. If it is a cancer relapse, treatment may help slow the cancers growth, relieve your symptoms, and protect your bones.
Yes. If youve had chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, you may have pain around your shoulder blade because of those treatments.
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Myth : If A Breast Lump Is Movable Its Not Cancer
Actually, breast cancers almost always begin in a movable state, Dr. Pederson says. Its not until they grow larger that they attach to something and stop moving.
You should tell your doctor about any lump you feel in your breast.
When doing a self-exam, feel around your breasts for something hard that doesnt belong there, Dr. Pederson says. It may feel like a frozen pea or lima bean, or be smooth and very firm, like a marble.
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.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast pain can be a symptom of cancer. If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are
- New lump in the breast or underarm .
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
How Breast Cancer Pain May Feel
While many types of breast pain are not cancerous, pain in only one breast may be cause for calling your doctor. Benign breast pain is often on both sides.
Breast cancer pain can be persistent and very specific, usually hurting in just one spot. It is important to remember that breast cancer can be present in your breast before it causes pain. If you have other symptoms of breast cancer, such as nipple retraction , sudden swelling of your breast, or sudden skin changes, consult your healthcare provider for a clinical breast exam.
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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.
How To Preform Breast Self
There has been some debate over the years regarding just how valuable breast self exam is in detecting the early stages of breast cancer and increasing the rate of survival. However many breast cancer organizations still believe that breast self exam is a useful strategy, especially when combined with regular physical exams by a doctor and screening methods.
The best way to detect the changes that arent associated with pain or strange sensations is by learning about the appearance and size of your breasts. Breast cancer organizations recommend sitting in front of a mirror and examine the structure of the breast. Use your hands to lift the breast and check the variability of skin stretching on both sides.
Dont forget to do this often to make sure you dont miss any sudden changes in appearance. Any of these symptoms should be analyzed by a medical professional for a conclusive diagnosis. If you are not professionally examined, youll be left in a worrying state of uncertainty. Hopefully everything is fine, but even if it isnt, detecting breast cancer in the earlier stages could very well make your chances for survival exponentially better.
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Relationships With Friends And Family
Itâs not always easy to talk about cancer, either for you or your family and friends. You may sense that some people feel awkward around you or avoid you.
Being open about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help may put them at ease. However, donât be afraid to tell them that you need some time to yourself, if thatâs what you need.
Want to know more?
- Healthtalkonline: How breast cancer affects families
What Are The Signs That Breast Cancer Has Spread
Metastatic breast cancer is a secondary cancer the cancerous cells originate in breast tissue and then travel to other parts of the body. The most common areas of breast cancer metastasis are the bones, lungs and liver.
Following an initial breast cancer diagnosis, a patient will receive a personalized monitoring plan for metastatic reoccurrence from their care team. Depending on the specific parts of the body affected, the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can vary.
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A Lump In Your Breast
A lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Lumps are often hard and painless, although some are painful. However, not all lumps are cancer. Benign breast conditions that can also cause lumps.
Still, its important to have your doctor check out any new lump or mass right away. If it does turn out to be cancer, the sooner its diagnosed the better.
How Might Pain Affect People With Cancer
Any type of pain, not just cancer pain, can affect all parts of a personâs life. Some days it may be better or worse than others.
If you have pain, you might not be able to do your job well or take part in other day-to-day activities. You may have trouble sleeping and eating. You might be irritable with the people you love. Its easy to get frustrated, sad, and even angry when youre in pain. Family and friends dont always understand how youre feeling, and you may feel very alone. This is not unusual, so itâs important to talk about your pain with your health care team so they can help.
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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.
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.
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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 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:
Pain: Obvious Symptom That Cancer Can Cause
Pain is an indicator of something being wrong with the usual cause being an injury or an illness. In either case, the nervous system notifies the brain of a problem by sending a pain signal through the nerves. When the signal is received, the pain is felt. Every kind of pain is transmitted in the same manner, including pain due to cancer. As not every type of cancer causes similar pain, the type of pain you feel can give an indication about a broad cancer type at least. For instance:
- Deep, aching pain. Deep and aching pain is usually caused by a tumor that is present close to the bones or that grows into the bones. This kind of pain caused by cancer is mostly bone pain.
- Burningpain. Burning pain is caused by tumors that press on parts of nerves. Cancer treatments like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can sometimes damage nerves and give rise to a burning feeling.
- Phantompain. Phantom pain is the sensation of pain in an area where a body part, like a breast or an arm, has been removed. The pain is felt even though there is no body part because of the nerve endings in the region continue to send the pain signals to the brain.
Going into further detail, the region of pain can give a good idea about the type of cancer. For example:
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What Does A Breast Lump Feel Like
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. Typically, a lump has to be about one centimeter before a person can feel it however, it depends on where the lump arises in the breast, how big the breast is, and how deep the lesion is.
When Should You Seek Medical Help
Since the answer to “what does cancer feel like in its initial development” is nothing different with other illness, you won’t be able to pick up the scent of cancer on your own at the beginning anyways. So, the best you can do is to get yourself checked by a doctor regularly.
To be on the safe side, if you feel anything different or observe a possible sign of cancer, you should get in touch with your doctor right away, even if you don’t feel unwell at all.
A lot of people don’t want to waste their doctor’s time and don’t want to come across as obnoxious individuals and thus, don’t go to their doctors even if they develop a possible cancer symptom or even if they sense something wrong with their body. You shouldn’t worry about this at all and go to the doctor right away in any such case.
It is possible that the doctor would find nothing wrong and it is also possible that the doctor might find something problematic and ask you to get a few tests done to know exactly what is going on. In any case, seeing the doctor would stop you from worrying about whether or not you have cancer one way or another.
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