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.
Secondary Breast Cancer In The Bone Marrow
In some cases secondary breast cancer affects how the bone marrow works.
Bone marrow is a spongy material found in the hollow part of bones. It makes blood cells to replace those which are naturally used up in the body.
Secondary breast cancer in the bone marrow may cause low levels of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets and can lead to anaemia, increased risk of infection and bruising or bleeding.
A blood test and a bone marrow biopsy may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
What To Expect With External Beam Radiation
If you have external beam radiation, youll meet with your radiation oncologist and a nurse before starting treatment. They will walk you through what to expect with external beam radiation, and the risks and benefits of this treatment.
At this time, youll likely have a physical exam and go over your medical history.
Additionally, the radiation oncologist and a radiation therapist will take scans of your treatment area. This will help define the boundaries of the affected area so they know where to aim the radiation beams.
They will put marks on your skin to mark the area. You will need the marks throughout the course of your treatment. The marks will be used to line up your body, so the radiation beams target the exact area that needs to be treated.
Sometimes a body mold will be made to immobilize you during the treatment and to help keep your body still.
Each treatment will only last a few minutes. The session setup will take longer than the actual treatment. You wont feel anything when the machine is turned on for the treatment. Its a painless procedure.
Also Check: How Do I Self Check For Breast Cancer
Sore Breasts Before Your Period
One symptom of premenstrual syndrome is the swelling and tenderness of the breasts. Pain can range in severity, though its usually on the lower end of the spectrum.
What causes it? During the hormonal changes cause by menstruation, oestrogen activates the breast ducts to enlarge and progesterone triggers the milk glands to swell . How can you ease breast pain before your period? If youre finding that over-the-counter painkillers arent working for this cyclical type of breast pain, you should see your GP for more options. Your doctor might recommend diuretics or oral contraceptives to help ease more severe pre-period breast pain.
How Does Radiation Therapy Work / What Is Radiotherapy
Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the use of various forms of radiation to safely and effectively treat cancer and other diseases. Radiation oncologists may use radiation to cure cancer, to control the growth of the cancer or to relieve symptoms, such as pain. Radiation therapy works by damaging cells. Normal cells are able to repair themselves, whereas cancer cells cannot. New techniques also allow doctors to better target the radiation to protect healthy cells.
Sometimes radiation therapy is the only treatment a patient needs. At other times, it is only one part of a patients treatment. For example, prostate and larynx cancer are often treated with radiotherapy alone, while a woman with breast cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Radiation may also be used to make your primary treatment more effective. For example, you can be treated with radiation therapy before surgery to help shrink the cancer and allow less extensive surgery than would otherwise be needed or you may be treated with radiation after surgery to destroy small amounts of cancer that may have been left behind. A radiation oncologist may choose to use radiation therapy in a number of different ways. Sometimes the goal is to cure the cancer. In this case, radiation therapy may be used to:
- Shrink tumors that are interfering with your quality of life, such as a lung tumor that is causing shortness of breath.
- Relieve pain by reducing the size of your tumor.
Recommended Reading: How Likely Am I To Get Breast Cancer
Will My Appetite Be Affected
Many side effects can cause problems with eating and digesting food, but you always should try to eat enough to help damaged tissues rebuild themselves. It’s very important not to lose weight during radiation therapy so that your body can heal. Try to eat small meals often and eat a variety of different foods. Your doctor or nurse can tell you whether your treatment calls for a special diet and a dietitian will have a lot of ideas to help you maintain your weight.
If you have pain when you chew and swallow, your doctor may advise you to use a powdered or liquid diet supplement. Many of these products, available at the drugstore without prescription, are made in a variety of flavors. They are tasty when used alone, or they can be combined with other foods, such as pureed fruit, or added to milkshakes. Some of the companies that make diet supplements have produced recipe booklets to help you increase your nutrient intake. Ask your dietitian or pharmacist for further information.
What side effects occur with radiation therapy to the head and neck area? Some people who are having radiation to the head and neck have redness and irritation in the mouth, a dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, changes in taste or nausea. Try not to let these symptoms keep you from eating.
What Should I Expect Before Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer
Most people who have breast cancer treatment receive external beam radiation therapy. The goal is to destroy any remaining cancerous cells while protecting healthy tissue.
Before your first treatment, you will have a planning session . This simulation helps your provider map out the treatment area while sparing normal tissues . This session may take one hour or longer.
During the simulation, your provider:
Also Check: Has Anyone Ever Survived Stage 4 Breast Cancer
What Side Effects Occur With Radiation Therapy To The Pelvis
If you are having radiation therapy to any part of the pelvis , you might have one or more of the digestive problems already described. You also may have some irritation to your bladder. This can cause discomfort or frequent urination. Drinking fluids can help relieve some of your discomfort. Your doctor can prescribe medication to deal with these problems.
There are also certain side effects that occur only in the reproductive organs. The effects of radiation therapy on sexual and reproductive functions depend on which organs are treated. Some of the more common side effects for both men and women do not last long after treatment. Others may be long-term or permanent. Before your treatment begins, ask your doctor about possible side effects and how long they might last.
Radiation Therapy And Risk Of A Second Cancer
In rare cases, radiation therapy to the breast can cause a second cancer.
The most common cancers linked to radiation therapy are sarcomas . For women who are long-term smokers, radiation therapy may also increase the risk of lung cancer .
The risk of a second cancer is small. If your radiation oncologist recommends radiation therapy, the benefits of radiation therapy outweigh this risk.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
Recommended Reading: What To Eat To Cure Breast Cancer
What To Do If You Notice Skin Changes
If you notice anything unusual on your skin, make an appointment to show it to your GP. It might help to take a photograph of anything unusual, so you can check for any changes. Remember there are many other skin conditions that are not cancer, especially in older people.
It can be more difficult to notice changes if you have darker skin. This is because symptoms of skin cancer may be less obvious than in people with paler skin. If you notice any changes, such as a sore that does not heal, always see your GP.
Macmillan is here to support you. If you would like to talk, you can:
What Are Common Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is called a local treatment. This means that it only affects the area of the body that is targeted. For example, radiation therapy to the scalp may cause hair loss. But people who have radiation therapy to other parts of their body do not usually lose the hair on their head.
Common physical side effects of radiation therapy include:
Skin changes. Some people who receive radiation therapy experience dryness, itching, blistering, or peeling. These side effects depend on which part of the body received radiation therapy and other factors. Skin changes from radiation therapy usually go away a few weeks after treatment ends. If skin damage becomes a serious problem, your doctor may change your treatment plan. Lotion may help with skin changes, but be sure to check with your nurse or other health care team about which cream they recommend and when to apply it. It is also best to protect affected skin from the sun. Learn more about skin-related side effects.
Fatigue. Fatigue is a term used to describe feeling tired or exhausted almost all the time. Many patients experience fatigue. Your level of fatigue often depends on your treatment plan. For example, radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy may result in more fatigue. Learn how to cope with fatigue.
Recommended Reading: What Are Margins In Breast Cancer
What Are The Side Effects Of Radiation
Radiation therapy can have side effects, and these vary from person to person.
The most common side-effects are:
- Sunburn-type skin irritation of the targeted area
- Red, dry, tender, or itchy skin
- Breast heaviness
- Discoloration, redness, or a bruised appearance
- General fatigue
What should I do about side effects from breast cancer radiation?If you experience difficulty from side effects, you should discuss them with your doctor, who may be able to suggest ways you can treat side effects and help yourself feel more comfortable. These problems usually go away over a short period of time, but there may be a lasting change in the color of your skin.Here are some good general tips for dealing with the most common side effects of radiation:
Vitamins To Avoid During Radiation Therapy
Your radiation oncologist may tell you to avoid taking certain antioxidant vitamin supplements, such as vitamins C, A, D, and E, while you’re having radiation therapy. These vitamins might interfere with radiation’s ability to destroy cancer cells.This is because radiation works in part by creating free radicals highly energized molecules that damage cancer cells. Free radicals in the environment can damage all cells, but in the case of radiation treatment they are focused on the cancer cells. Antioxidants help keep free radicals from forming or neutralize them if they do form.
Because of the potential conflict between the goal of radiation therapy and the goal of antioxidants , it makes sense to stop taking any antioxidant supplements during radiation therapy. When radiation is finished, you can resume taking your supplements.
Throughout your treatment, do your best to eat a well-balanced diet that contains all of the vitamins you need. Vitamins that come naturally from food are unlikely to interfere with treatment.
You May Like: Can I Get Breast Cancer At 15
Late Effects Of Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer
Radiotherapy to the breast may cause side effects that happen months or years after radiotherapy. They are called late effects.
Newer ways of giving radiotherapy are helping reduce the risk of these late effects happening. If you are worried about late effects, talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse.
The most common late effect is a change in how the breast looks and feels.
Radiotherapy can damage small blood vessels in the skin. This can cause red, spidery marks to show.
After radiotherapy, your breast may feel firmer and shrink slightly in size. If your breast is noticeably smaller, you can have surgery to reduce the size of your other breast.
If you had breast reconstruction, using an implant before radiotherapy, you may need to have the implant replaced.
It is rare for radiotherapy to cause heart or lung problems, or problems with the ribs in the treated area. This usually only happens if you had treatment to your left side.
Tell your cancer doctor if you notice any problems with your breathing, or have any pain in the chest area.
Changes To Your Breasts
Breast cancer usually starts in one breast. According to the American Cancer Society, the most common sign of breast cancer is a newly formed mass or lump in your breast.
The mass or lump is usually irregularly shaped and painless. However, some cancerous masses can be painful and round in shape. This is why any lump or mass ought to be screened for cancer.
Invasive ductal carcinoma causes lumps and bumps in the breasts. This is a type of breast cancer that forms inside the milk ducts.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. It makes up about 80 percent of all diagnoses. Its also more likely to spread to other areas of the body.
Invasive lobular carcinoma can cause breast thickening. This type of breast cancer starts in the glands that produce breast milk. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that up to 15 percent of all breast cancers are invasive lobular carcinomas.
You may notice your breasts have changed color or size. They may also be red or swollen from the cancerous tumor. While breast cancers themselves arent usually painful, the resulting swelling can cause breast pain. The cancer lumps may still be painful in some cases, though.
With breast cancer, your nipples may also undergo some noticeable changes.
You May Like: Can Cancer Come Back In The Same Breast
What To Expect With Internal Radiation
Before you get any internal radiation, youll meet with your radiation oncologist. They will:
- do a physical exam
- ask about your medical history
- go over what your internal radiation treatment will entail
Most internal radiation, or brachytherapy, is given with a catheter. This is a small, flexible tube thats surgically placed into the space left from breast-conserving surgery.
At the end of the catheter is a device that can be inflated inside your breast so that it stays in place for the duration of the treatment.
During your treatment, radiation pellets or seeds are put down the tube and into the inflatable device. They usually stay there for about 10 to 20 minutes or longer, and then theyre removed. How long the radiation pellets stay in place depends on:
- your type of cancer
- other cancer treatments that youve had
Once your course of treatment is over, the catheter and inflatable device will be removed.
What Are Some Of The Possible Risks Or Complications
Minor complications include:
- Slight swelling of the breast during radiotherapy. This usually goes away within six to 12 months.
- The skin becomes darker during the course of radiotherapy, similar to tanning from the sun. In most cases, this also fades gradually over six to 12 months.
- Most women will have aches or pains from time to time in the treated breast or the muscles surrounding the breast, even years after treatment. The reason why this happens is not clear however, these pains are harmless, although annoying. They are NOT a sign that the cancer is reappearing.
- Rarely, patients may develop a rib fracture years following treatment. This occurs in less than one percent of patients treated by modern approaches. These heal slowly by themselves.
More serious complications include:
Don’t Miss: Can Estrogen Cause Breast Cancer
Breast Pain: 10 Reasons Your Breasts May Hurt
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.
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:
Also Check: Can Little Girls Get Breast Cancer